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Has/Needs A secure network for user-community geographic logistics.

Open-ended need/resource matching platform enhancing ‘communities of proximity’ + trauma mitigation through enhanced self efficacy. more...

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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

My idea solves most challenges presented in this Call. Other matching platforms connect top-down (from aid agency to users), or for a select group to connect with pre-existing resources. My open-ended system has unlimited categories and reputation management that focuses on safely connecting local needs to nearby resources while respecting the dignity of all participants. Has/Needs assumes everyone is best at describing their own needs, and everyone has something to offer. Respecting both of these premises leads to trauma resiliency and longer term success. Individuals are able to self assemble into communities with shared needs and resources; making aid response more manageable, promoting trusted interactions between communities, and providing emotional comfort. Communities and resources are fluid. A feature of my system is that connections between need and resource form a reputation network that is updated with every interaction. The originator of each message is updated at every step and when a connection is made, it becomes a strengthened node. In this way, responsive individuals and agencies grow in prominence within the system. This has implications for objectively evaluating governance, improving regional democratization. The network can be transmitted from user to user, allowing a local community to share the gathered reputable resources with individuals and groups transiting an area - or from user to user as one leaves while another is arriving. As an open-ended system, a wide variety of inputs on every level can encourage respectful interactions between individuals sharing skills, solving minor challenges, and generally feeling valuable as a person by providing good for their neighbors. A trusted platform opens opportunities to bridge cultural gaps in ways that passing on the street can’t. In the event of disaster or conflict, this platform supports community self-help and provides the best possible data for an organized response. Win-win-win!

Geography of focus (500 characters)

Every person’s locality. This idea is designed to be implemented across levels of technological development. Primarily, in terms of numbers, SMS-text message will be the method of interaction. The most functional interaction is through smartphone, and a web presence offers advanced visualization, statistics, and interaction tools. The idea is designed to meet basic needs scaleably. Therefore, introduction during crisis presents the moment of greatest value and lowest barriers to adoption.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

By centering on a geographical origin point, everyone is informed of their dynamic surroundings. A means of social interaction that facilitates self expression, and provides opportunities to help others, offers instant healing, growth, and comfort. Socially, feeling sovereign and choosing to group together stimulates democratic participation. This idea is a lightweight framework allowing that to happen. What’s removed is the top-down control that typifies other methods of engaging the public.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

Every need Since every person has attributes of value, and needs can be of any kind, there is a very rich opportunity to interact in meaningful ways. Autonomy is also allowed for because everything is in individual control. The needs for sovereignty and mutual respect are fostered when the relationships are explicit. When messages are redirected to a more relevant resource, that new network node is captured, making the response loop more effective. The Need of responders to have accurate data is satisfied by eliminating layers between need and resource. Accountability in every direction exposes bad actors and surfaces leaders. Mutual aid is automatically rewarded and patterns of productive cooperation come to the forefront. Personal empowerment grows and trauma is reduced when a person is able to direct their future. Communities grow best with healthy engagement from communal resources like government. With Has/Needs, responsive politicians are highlighted, as are corrupt ones.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

A person who is on the move will express their needs, be connected to resources, be able to share with their surroundings in a healthy way, be able to share the value of their culture and values across language barriers, learn from everyone else in the system, while maintaining dignity in the process of their experience; building a consistent support network based on their history and history of others. Because of these outcomes, communities, agencies, responders and governance will know exactly what is needed and where, they will be able to monitor success directly, they will be able to determine through specific ‘lack’ of data, what resources are needed and where, political motivation becomes highly functional and more democratic as individuals see the resulting benefit of their interactions on individual and collective scales. Representative governance will give way to more collective methods as regionally appropriate solutions are rewarded with action.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

Watching UN staff holding paper and clipboard, asking an indigenous mother questions, while she juggles three babies and a phone call with her uncle. It immediately became apparent that everyone on the planet can get to a mobile phone, and knows perfectly well what they need or has to offer. As a crisis mapper I knew agencies wanted to keep control of the information flow, maintaining control and doubting other’s data. This leads to an immense amount of redundancy and disempowerment of all involved humans. I also saw the immense value of getting free flowing information from the field, and swore to connect things in an empowering way. I desire to rethink the power dynamic of information and thus change marketing, disaster, commerce, and social existence by assuming the power of the one and identifying the relationship to all others in a benevolent manner. My own trauma and studies reaffirm the need for creating healing situations for displaced persons. I believe this is the best way.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

Communities of any kind. The community in need has collective requirements, these are in known quantities based on some averages, but in the migratory state, these values shift dynamically. Likewise, responders have varying resources and needs of their own. Typically a trained cadre will make guesses that come from places of empathy and practicality, but cannot ever be exact. By exposing the realities of every community in a safe manner, everyone can benefit by interacting on equal footing. Those who assume power need to be held accountable when that power is derived from human consent. This idea surfaces consent relationships in every location it is implemented, and creates a network of empowered people who can share knowledge wherever they are. The involvement of everyone makes the relationship more respectful in both directions without having to modify personalities or compromise values. The benevolent social interaction that benefits the most people will prevail - by design.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

My idea draws forth all community strengths and opens their own eyes to intangible assets, this turns it into a beneficial interaction for the migrant and the static community member. All sides benefit from enhanced self expression and agencies can better fulfill their mandate in a respectful way. Since a “need” can be “counseling” “play” “employment”, and because it is decoupled from personal information, the resources can be sourced from farther afield and apply to more of each person’s ‘whole being’. With personal privacy and message control, a dataset is created with incredible richness and depth. The twist, is that responders must advertise their resources in the blind, and offer compensation to ask questions directly. In practical terms, every organization with a specific focus can be made obvious to those in need, organizations responding regionally can better predict logistics, and lessons are learned across the network automatically. Positive feedback loops drive this system.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

I have no current partners. I have tried to introduce my thinking to UNOCHA, IDEO, FEMA, Red Cross, DARPA, Lincoln Labs, Harvard HSI, IBM, Standby Taskforce, Geeks With Out Borders, Humanitarian Open sTreetmap, PPGIS, and the consistent response was that it would work but “people can’t be trusted”. This thinking, I argue, is exactly what has created so many problems in the first place. It is my goal to work with Open-IDEO participants willing to support a person-centric model of social interaction that respects individual sovereignty as its fundamental design criteria. In it’s most simple implementation this idea will save lives. In the organically grown, more complex phases, it will provide lasting value and social cohesion. I have: basic code skills for App development, expertise to choose a blockchain platform, a reputation engine to provide excellent data quality and self policing community.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Other

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Systems design: Solutions that target changing larger system

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Prototype: We have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Group or Organization Name


Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

Open-IDEO has gathered potential partners and I want to leverage this community to do good. I want to learn from their examples and solutions, while providing my approach. I moved 50+ times before I joined the military at age 18. I identified as a global nomad back in 1985, and have continued my world travels, feeling connected to humanity more than locality. As a Paramedic and military medical volunteer, I was able to see humans in crisis in vastly different settings. As a crisis mapper, I gained insight into the Aid response community. Through it all, closely watching software and GIS advances intersect the phone, and then proliferate through global society, has directed my assumptions about what is possible. With the legitimacy of IDEO and the Bridges’ award, I can reapproach the entities I’ve listed with a success story, and deliver my own implementation. I believe excellent data creates trust that trumps agencies’ need to control how it was gathered.

Type of submitter

  • Other

Organization Headquarters: Country


Organization Headquarters: City / State

Concord, MA


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Photo of om G


Thank you so much for your comment.
Much of my idea for this was created by watching 'western' aid workers using their technology to coordinate *for* affected populations. I also saw training situations where aid workers were taught to not trust input from local populations. The worst, to me, was the practice of not providing updates to affected persons for fear of ‘getting their hopes up’. I found all of this behavior colonialist and patronizing in a world where access to a cell phone with SMS capability is reaching 100%.
The very premise of this project is aimed at persons using a cell phone with at least SMS capability. We do find that migrant populations very often have smartphones, or at least one in the group however.
The interactions for persons with an SMS-only phone would be limited to lists of resources matching, but I envisioned these persons sending their needs and what they have to offer, to a central location where more sophisticated matching would take place, rather than on their phone specifically.
Using SMS shortcodes, we can alleviate connection costs.
For an example of how sophisticated interactions can take place with SMS I would point you to an excellent example called Elva. These developers started around 2011 and have been able to provide a great deal of community benefit through ‘simple’ interactions using regular ‘non-smart’ phones.
My design accommodates sophisticated analysis and technologies, but does not rely on them exclusively.
Thank you again for the comment, and I look forward to more conversations around Has/Needs or other aspects of respectful autonomy for the human family!

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