Thursday, January 31, 2008

Custom Garmin GPS Maps

Garmin makes, what are in my opinion, some of the best GPS receivers on the market. While the company sells a world map that provides a bit more international detail than the default base map that comes with one of their GPS units, the detail is still typically lacking for humanitarian field use (you can purchase detailed street and topographic maps for Europe, Canada and the US, which aren't that much use if you're off the beaten track in Asia or Africa).

Garmin's GPS maps are proprietary. They make money selling their maps, and don't want just anyone creating them. A couple of years ago some Polish hackers figured out Garmin's internal map format and wrote some software that allows you to create your own GPS maps. Over the years, a growing number of free Garmin maps have been produced for some fairly remote parts of the world. Check out this database, where people freely contribute maps they've produced. You might find something useful.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

NGO Security Scenario #16

You are flying from Jakarta to Yogyakarta, Indonesia to visit a program site. The national staff program manager and two international staff from your headquarters are accompanying you. The plane is full and you weren't able to get seats together. The flight is uneventful, until the plane lands very hard. Luggage from the overhead bins starts falling out and the plane comes to a sudden stop. You look out the window and see flames. Smoke is filling up the cabin as you manage to get to an emergency exit. The plane is off the runway in a rice paddy. Click the play button below to see and hear what you experience.

Based on the situation, what do you do? What are your priorities? What threats are present? Share your thoughts by clicking on COMMENTS below.

Friday, January 25, 2008

How to Escape Down an Airplane Slide

Did you know every 11 days an airliner deploys its inflatable evacuation slide? And that's just in the United States. To help prepare you for such an event, Time magazine has a pretty good how-to article.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

NGO Security Scenario #15

You are working as a security officer in Darfur. This is your first assignment in the region and you have a limited amount of field experience. You are meeting in a town with several other experienced security officers from different organizations when a siren starts to sound. You look up and see a large group of horsemen riding down the street. "Janjaweed," one of your colleagues says. Click the play button below to experience what you see and hear.

How do you determine the current level of risk? What questions do you ask your colleagues? What actions do you take? (If you're unfamiliar with the Janjaweed, click here for context.) Share your thoughts by clicking on COMMENTS below.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tear Gas/Pepper Spray Resource

Tear gas and pepper spray are widely used by police and military forces throughout the world to control crowds. Because of the dynamic nature of protests, aid workers may find themselves exposed to riot control agents (if you've never been gassed before, the first time can be very disconcerting). Unfortunately, this topic isn't discussed very much in traditional humanitarian security training and manuals. So to learn more we need to look to other sources, in this case, street medics.

Street medics are independent, trained volunteer medical personnel who support activists during protests. Organized street medic groups have sprung up in a number of Western, urban locations. One of the groups, known as the Black Cross Health Collective, has published extensive information on the effects of and treating tear gas and pepper spray. Check it out.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Kenya Incident Mapping

Ushahidi is an innovative Web site for tracking security incidents currently taking place in Kenya. What makes Ushahidi unique is anyone can report an incident (either on the site or with SMS) and anyone can view the incident map. This is a great idea and implementation, that hopefully will be replicated in other parts of the world. Kudos to the originators.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

NGO Security Scenario #14

You are walking to your office in Ankara, Turkey. An unexpected winter storm has dumped heavy snow on the city. A couple of blocks from your apartment you hear screaming and shouting. Click the play button to see what you encounter.

Are the bystanders doing a good job of first aid? Based on your training, how would you treat the woman and child? What other threats to safety are present? Considering the environmental conditions, what safety measures would you suggest your organization implement when you reach the office? Share your thoughts by clicking on COMMENTS below.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Humanitarian Security Survey

The Center on International Cooperation is conducting an online survey on the use of private security providers in a humanitarian context.

The survey is for headquarters, field and regional staff of UN agencies, the ICRC, and international and local NGOs. All relevant parties are encouraged to take part. In cooperation with OCHA and in consultation with an Advisory Group composed of UN agencies and International Red Cross/Red Crescent and NGO representatives, the research team has designed this survey in order to compile a dataset of the range of services that private security providers are contracted to undertake and different models of security provision and partnerships. The results of this survey in conjunction with desk-based and field-based analysis of humanitarian actors' use of private security providers will serve as the basis for a comprehensive report due in April 2008. The survey is anonymous, and no individual organization or agency will be cited by name in published findings.

To take the survey, follow this link.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

NGO Security Scenario #13

You are working as a security officer in Beirut, Lebanon. Tensions with Israel are on the rise again; although there have been no military actions. You wake up in your apartment one morning to the sounds of jets flying low overhead. Press the play button to see and hear what happens next.

What would you do? What sources would you consult to get additional information? The land line and mobile/cell phone networks appear to be out. How do you communicate with the country office? Share your thoughts by clicking on COMMENTS below.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Africa Fatalities

Two French women volunteering for Action Against Hunger in eastern Burundi were shot in their car in the town of Ruyigi. One of the aid workers died, the other has been hospitalized. At the present the motive is unknown.

John Granville, a USAID officer, was killed in a drive-by shooting in Khartoum, Sudan. His driver was wounded during the attack. An investigation is ongoing.

Condolences to family, friends and colleagues.