Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pakreport Communication Strategy during 2010 Floods in Pakistan



In reality many of the projects that originate during disaster do not have any set project plans. It is still astonishing that without any plans these projects have well defines rules and protocols for getting things done quickly, efficiently and with low budgets - that event businesses with long age lack. We are sharing this document to make things open on how we were communicating during disaster. Some names of person and entities are omitted from the document.

Background: We need a strategy to communicate our message to the disaster affected community.

Effective ways:  still trying to figure out best way but 
  • Internet strategy is out of scope to reach to the flood affected community.
  • Just met --- (Internews), and he mentioned mobile network played an important role in spreading message in haiti. If so then we should focus our energies there.
  • One time interviews on radio and TV do not work. So need to get the message out through repeated messages through public service or paid ads or partnerships.
  • How to spread our message through banners and printed material that should be distributed with the relief goods by the humanitarian agencies and people providing aid.
  • Agree with the George that we should have a clear mission statement and what we are trying to do. to be used everywhere. so we need to work it out. George has given an excellent start.

What has been done at this end
  • Interviews with VOA, BBC and other radios are done but one time programs and interviews are not effective.
  • InterNews has spread our message to the media.
  • Radio ---- ( ----) agreed to broadcast our message but it is not happening regularly and effectively.
  • A (media company) has agreed to build a strategy to spread our message and how they can help us in spreading our message. something concrete has yet to come.

What need to do on urgent basis

  • Need to have a proposal on what we can offer to the media that will support us through public service ads or some other stuff. {Important}
  • Every relief Camp has an in charge. It is important to contact them.  PDMA ( Provinicial disastaer management authority can provide these contact information).
  • Also it is important to get mobile numbers of all the reporters and subscribe them for job alerts.
  • Followup with Internews InfoAsAid program.
  • Internews spread our message to humanitarian and media agencies.  Following are the media contacts to follow-up that were introduced by InterNews and others.

Steps to do immediate following the above ones

SMS Alerts for reporters and camp inchargs

  • Implement SMS alert system with the local vendor. We will buy 28,000 message in $250
  • Do it as category wise instead of subscribing to all the information
  • how to put un subscribe from alerts {do not have this at this time and it can be annoying for subscribers}

Other factors to understand

  • We need to have a budget for the media promotion; as media is hesitating to broadcast public service messages,  and need to actively look for sponsorships to support this activity.
  • Radio is cheap but TV and print mediums are too expensive for us to support.


Communication with the Humanitarian agencies and relief workers+ others. Indirect way to spread our message.

Communicating 3441 to population

As I understood, we have pretty good contacts on local media (either provided by Internews or through other networks) – do we have a final message to population about 3441 and pakreport?  Communication has to be unified and clear, for that purpose we need press release – short version as well as more descriptive version. If there is already voice recording service (and local phone number), all this information should be put together in one promo material.

For print materials, I would also suggest to use as a graphic a screenshot of screen of a cellphone where someone is typing message to 3441 in order to make it absolutely clear to people (I guess we are using “PR” instead of “FL” from now on right?). Print material is already ready, now it will take time to re-do this.

We need success stories and positive quotes – Anahi is compiling them. Blogpost should follow. This success stories are good for “selling” pakreport. As I understood, lot of potential partners (incl Internews) were raising concerns about how the information is being used. Success stories can help to mitigate some of these concerns.

Communication to international community-

Twitter – we need to show what is pakreport.org about, and simply, it is about reports.  So we need more tweets based on actual fresh reports. Every day, we should send AT LEAST two tweets based on some significant report received on pakreport. This way pakreport will be presented as a service bringing fresh reports directly from the ground. And actually, Channel 16 is already doing that:



I think it is very good partnership with Ch16 and it is great that they tweet couple of times a day reports that are coming from Pakreport, but simply, we should be the first ones who tweets such reports.

Would it be possible to have on pakreport site or blog site those little icons “follow us on twitter, facebook,…”?

Blogs

Thanks ---- for managing this! Could we try to set up a schedule to have at least two-three original posts a week? Anyone from the team can be an author – posts can be related to developments in different pakreport “departments” – authors: --- , ---- , ---- , ---- ,… But it would be also great to have some more personal stories from other people involved in pakreport: especially those of you who are from Pakistan but currently are living/studying abroad: why do you decided to join pakreport team? What is your work about? Posts can be short, but regular.

We should put more “human face” to pakreport – personal stories on blog, pictures of team members, their short bios (the bios are already in the “about” section, do we have the pictures?). This is one of the ways we can distinguish pakreport from other similar projects.

Whenever possible, we should try to push people to subscribe for alerts, or do it for them. What is the status of having alerts subscription by category?

Humanitarian partnerships

I was always saying that pakreport.org should be presented primarily as a platform for local reporting as well as local response. However, we obviously need also buy-in of the international humanitarian actors such as UN agencies and major INGOs. As I understood, couple of links were already established (UNICEF, IFRC,…), but pakreport.org should be continuously present on the decision-making meetings. Currently I am not aware about other coordination structure than UN cluster system. Pakreport representative should be personally participating on the cluster meetings. They take place in Islamabad, a most probably there are also clusters in the affected regions.

One of the critical meetings is Information Management Working Group held probably once a week by UNOCHA. The schedule is not online but it will be possible to get it personally in Islamabad.

But also other cluster meetings (Food, WATSAN, Camp Management, Logistics,…) are important, for following reasons:

Major humanitarian NGOs and government reps are used to participate on these meetings
It is a place to get fresh updates about what is the situation on the ground, what assessments are undergoing, what strategic decisions are being made and what the plans are, who is doing what and where

It is a great place to make personal contacts!!!

If we want some hum NGOs to distribute pakreport materials in their areas of work, cluster meetings can be a good place to start

Most probably (for security reasons) pakreport representative will have to register first with UNOCHA in order to get access to meetings (but maybe not, I don’t know).

Participation in all of these meetings is extremely time consuming, usually without quick results. I would suggest to try to attend each of these meetings first and than decide which ones are more relevant than the others. It is not necessary to be there always personally, but it is important to register yourself personally first, provide contact information in order to receive meeting minutes in the future.

After initial contacts with clusters I would suggest to ask the cluster lead to get a 10-20 minutes space for Pakreport representative to do a presentation about pakreport.org during one of the cluster meetings.

And most important thing: Pakreport representative has to have a Pakreport/3441 T-Shirt in this meetings!!! It really helps for making connections with people who A)know about pakreport B)don’t know, but are curious what kind of service it is.

If we decide to have a person who is in Islamabad and willing to participate on UN cluster meetings, I can immediately train such person in how the UN cluster system works, what he/she should expect etc.

Other citizen reporting projects

There are currently number of citizen reporting initiatives. Here is the list of those I know about, but there might be more:

Channel 16 – www.ch16.org
BBC/Internews
Seen Report – seenreport.com
Geo Dost - http://flood.geodost.tv
Hunza Landslides - http://local.com.pk/hunza/
Floods.com.pk
Sahana
Hamari Awaz

Channel 16 – partnership established, they have longcode, but not many reports and I think they don’t have any public campaign in Pakistan

BBC/Internews – call center, we need to find out more about their project, but in general it reminds me their project in Haiti, reports coming to their call center could be also mapped on pakreport, it would be invaluable source of data. Establishing partnership would be desirable.

There are two options in general – 1. Taking the reports from them on a regular basis (lets say once a day as an excel file) and having our volunteers to submit them to pakreport, or, 2. Training their people to submit those reports directly to pakreport.org themselves. We need to find out more about their capacity and structure.

Seenreport – they have longcode and claim that they have thousands of reports. Looking at their site, they are not mapping the reports, I believe partnership would be desirable, for us it would be another great source of data. can follow-up this

Geo Dost – ran by seen report team, shortcode 436 GD and people can also call 0900, however, in order to submit report, you need to be registered, would be interesting to find out more – what is their capacity, how many reports are they receiving? Can we use their data?

Floods.com.pk – we don’t know who is it. Looking at their site, there is no way how to submit a report – neither email, web form, nor sms. Interesting, I wonder what is their goal and capacity.

Sahana – we already have a partnership, I would be very much interested how it works so far
Hunza - not sure how active they are today

Hamari Awaz – shortcode 7111, according to Faisal, they are not based in Pakistan and it is a question how active they are. Funded by State Department – that can be actually disadvantage for them in Pakistan. Their alert service is paid – I really wonder how many people will be actually willing to pay for alerts. Anyway, if they are active, again, lets try to set up some kind of partnership.

In general, I think these initiatives can be a good source of data – pakreport.org would be a place where all these streams of information are aggregated and mapped. Another source are radio stations such as Radio Pakistan that are collecting reports from their listeners. We could train their people to submit reports to pakreport.

We can do this at least until there is potentially a huge increase of incoming sms reports and the capacity of volunteers needs to be focused primarily on processing those sms reports.

Situation reports


Probably it is too early, but we should also keep in mind that at some point we shoud try to start producing lets say weekly situation reports based on some basic analyses of incoming data – this reports would be primarily for media and humanitarian actors – the focus would be following:

Most significant trends in various fields – health, watsan, security,…
Aggregated report about situation in remote/unsafe areas
Aggregated report about underserved areas
Highlighting any significant issues being reported to pakreport.org

So that’s all for now, I am looking forward for discussing this further and preparing some more concrete action points…

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Checklist for webmasters in Pakistan after blocking of youtube.com


In th second week of September, 2012, PTA has blocked access to youtube.com in Pakistan by asking ISPs to block access to the website. It is not clear what procedure is adopted by the ISPs to block Youtube. I think all the ISPs in Pakistan have used their own policy and mechanism to block these services. This has resulted in different kind of blocked reports from different users. e.g many users were reporting that they were able to access the youtube through secure http protocol ( https ). At this time on 23rd September, youtube is not accessible through https on PTCL and others network. ( I can confirm 

The widely used Gmail services have not seen any services interruption yet. However, Google Maps, Google Drive and google plus have been inaccessible most of the times.

This is yet to ascertain how much loss has happened to Google and local business that are using Google services. May be we have some data in near future on this.

One of the services that is inaccessible is Google Analytics. Almost all of the websites embed a java script code that helps the Google analytics software to show website traffic analytics to website admins. The java script code used to be in the footer of the websites, but in the latest version of Google analytics the the recommended way to embed the code was in header. Also, the javascript file is accessed from web address apis.google.com.

As a website visitor when someone goes to the website the browser keep its status transferring until all the page content is loaded. As the Google analytics file is not loading on user's computer the browser keep showing the in-progress status. This means the page load time increases to more than 2 minutes in most of the cases. In addition to long page load times some of the java scripts does not get executed that are required for various interactions on the website.

So, in order to keep the website functional the webmaster need to remove the Google analytics javascript, Google Plus javascript file and any other files that are not being loading at this time.

I have studied various files in BrightSpyre.com that are being loaded from Google servers. We have commented out Google analytics code and now the page load time has come back to normal. Also in some pages jquery code was not executing and that pages have started working smoothly.

We still running Google adsense and Google ads managment software on BrightSpyre.com. However, both of these services use a different web address ( googleadservices.com and googlesyndication.com, googleapis.com) and run smoothly without any page blocking.





Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Do We Vote Map- Elections Mapping in Pakistan

Cross posting from my blog post at www.pakreport.org/dowevote blog
Higher turnout makes the democratic governments more strong, and at the same time makes Governments more accountable to the people of the country.

In any democratic system voters Turnout is the most common and probably most important component of the individual’s participation in the Political process. Economic, demographic, cultural, natural, technological and institutional factors effect the voters turnout in a country. However, one agreeable fact is that higher voters turnouts provide legitimacy to the elections and Governments

In recent Egypt elections more more than 70% of the voters participated in the first and second stage of the elections. That shows the will of the people to drive change in the country. Today, Pakistan is at a very crucial stage in its very short democratic life span. History has shown that most of the people in Pakistan do not take part in the elections; showing their lack of belief in the change through electoral process. In Pakistan, the highest voters turnout(55%) was observed in 1955 elections.

As maps with the interactive statistics are the right tools to tell story on the Internet today, our team compiled 2008 National assembly data and created the interactive chart to show how many percent of voters take part in elections in 2008 and launched http://www.pakreport.org/dowevote. You can zoom the map to the district level to see how many of us take part in the electoral process from each part of Pakistan.

The map shows the parts of the country where voters turnout ranges from 12.8% (Bajur Agency) to 67.33% (Bhakkar) percent.

Our efforts are to demonstrate that low voters participation is not a path forward to change in our country. Higher participation of the common people in the elections and steps of the Government to make voting easy for every one are the key factors to sustain democracy in Pakistan. DoWeVote map is first effort and we need your involvement and feedback to take this step forward.
We hope we will see more active participation from people of Pakistan in electoral process and higher voter turnouts in next elections!


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Unemployment,poverty and opportunities in digital economy


When we talk about available work opportunities in developing countries like Pakistan, we often describe developing world as a land where we have poverty of opportunities. 

The current un-employment rate stands at 5.5 ( ministry of labour stats)  and government seemes quite happy with these numbers while comparing these rates with other south Asian  countries.  However, people living under poverty line shows a very high number. Every 1 of 6th Pakistani (17.2 % population) lives below poverty line. 

There are many ways the governments and regimes think about reducing un-employment rates, but one of the real opportunity to reduce un-employment is through the opportunity of global digital economy. 

There are few important questions that need to be answered and will be explained in detail

1. How to come out of poverty of opportunities; when we have huge opportunities available in the digital economy.
2. How to overcome the skills gap.
3. More importantly, how to mentally prepare a large number of young people to access  and benefit from the employment opportunities in the digital economy?


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Job Descriptions- Skills or Personality

Boston Hiring Blog that covers all about Hiring in Boston has discussed in a post that hiring for personality is way more important to sustained employment than skills-based hiring. 

This makes perfect sense for job descriptions to be
  • First explain about your company,values and culture. Treat it as a "Personality of your company"
  • Mention the qualities that you want to have before skills
  • Then continue towards the skill sections.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Who is writing job descriptions in your organization ?

Do the people who are writing job descriptions in your organization, follow these guidelines.

1. The job description is a text required to fill in the job advertisements space.
2. Job description is a set of few requirements prepared by HR to just fill a vacant position.
3. Job descriptions are what written by the manager, given to the HR department, who modifies them and publish them.
4. Job descriptions does include some (25%) of the stuff that employees perform in 40 hours of the week's time.
5. The job descriptions are to let candidates know, what are the requirements of the position we wanted to fill in.
6. The job descriptions go in the offer letter and then you bury them. Those are never discussed later, during the employment period and during performance appraisals.

If this is what happening in your organization then you are at serious risk.

Here are a few rules to fix this mess

1. The core of the job descriptions of the key positions in the organizations need to be written by higher Management.

2. Most of the job descriptions need to need to be written by Respective Managers, HR, the staff who is already working in the organization. However, these job descriptions must be simply validated by some of the senior people in the organizations. Whenever, higher management is going to run diagnostic check, they will start from the job descriptions of the people. So, it is better to spend time on the job descriptions early than late, when you are in big troubles.

One of the organization's, I worked with, wanted to achieve a specific (Security) certification in the next coming year. But, surprisingly they never mentioned it when they were hiring people, never mentioned it in openly, never discussed it in performance appraisals, and management was still thinking they will be able to achieve it.

Another, on-line web company's success was dependent on the user experience of their Product. They never mentioned it in the job descriptions of the development managers, project managers, programmers and other staff. Still, they were put a high number for users acquisition in their plans.

what happened in above cases. Organizations did not achieved their goals. Who is responsible and who should fix it. The answer higher management, managers, HR, people already working all should contribute to job descriptions.

Following is the detail who should contribute.

3. What each one in the team contributes.

- Higher management makes sure that the job descriptions are aligned with the core values, competencies of the organization.They should make sure what are the competencies required to achieve their current year plan. make sure those skills and competencies are in the job descriptions, if you want to achieve them.
- Managers should make sure that they include 99% of the work in needed to be one in the job description. It should put emphasis on the 20% of the core work that generates 80% of the output in the organization. Managers should never miss the core work that the employees need to put in, to stop bad hires in the team.
- HR make sure that the job descriptions are complete enough to pursue right candidates and retain them. HR should make sure, Job descriptions are presentable,so that best candidates get attracted towards the organization.
- People who are already working in the organization will put the nifty,gritty details in the job descriptions. Ask from them what need to be improved in terms of the core skills. Involving them will reduce the rick to ignore any skill in the job description, that is absolutely essential for you current and future plans.


Once, you have involved all the key people in writing and validating the right job descriptions, your first step to hiring great people in your organization is on your way..

New serices of posts. Path to Successful Organizations

I am starting to write a series of posts to improve an organization's fundamental strengths. Almost every organization try to do it best with its resources, but fixing the fundamentals early, asap is one of the important step.

The organization in my mind are the startups, counting companies like google as startup, keeping in mind that any organization that wanted to succeed need to be working in a startup style with a quick agile delivery model

The first few topics are improving the core strength i.e. people. From hiring people to getting people deliver up to the expectations.