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IDEO EBOLA COMMUNITY ACTION ROOM - let's see the forest insteads of the trees.... create a collaborative mindmap for IDEO users to get a holistic big picture of the problem. There isn't one solution, but many that have to work together.

It's good to share these ideas with others here but we can take it to the next stage by getting small interested group of us together, talking live using google chat or skype to brainstorm using online collaborative tools to map out all these ideas and form a coherent, holistic plan. This is a multi-dimensional problem and we need to collate all this information together into a logical and cohesive temporal-spatial structure. It would be good to include people who have returned from work in the workers, etc as well as ex-patriates from that region and living abroad and teleconference in a wide variety of expertise to form an informed multi-dimensional plan that is ready to be implemented on short notice.

Photo of James (Gien) Wong
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Nov 14, 2014

We are evaluating two solution tracks: 1) REALLY low tech, using only materials available in rural West Africa 2) low tech, using common modern materials such as plastics sheets, tarps, etc...Solution 1), if we can find an acceptable version will be immediately scalable. 2) is a more long term solution that can exist at ready-to-deploy kits manufactured by communities in West Africa and ready to deploy in any community setting to nip any future infectious disease contagion in the bud. 

Nov 9, 10

New designs going back to low tech after listening to Onu and Mathews description of the need on the ground.  Also began draft skeleton design specification document.

Nov 7, 2014

Andy did a great design that captures all the ideas we've been discussing over the past week. Josef did a nice simple low tech design concept as well.

Nov 6, 2014

Popup Tent design idea is getting lots of good interaction. The design page is growing pretty large but everyone's getting the hang of joining ideas with lines. Lynn brought up good point about coordinating the solution with those in charge to avoid redundant efforts.

Nov 5, 2014

Some good news today! Breakthrough vaccine presented at San Diego conference today: 
  • Maria Croyle, a professor in the College of Pharmacy at The University of Texas at Austin, Kristina Jonsson-Schmunk, a graduate student in pharmacy, and colleagues at the university developed a nasal formulation that improved survival of immunized non-human primates from 67 percent (2 out of 3) to 100 percent (3 out of 3) 
Nov 4, 2014

The POPUP TENT team is beginning to work in the Design Mandala and seems to be working well! Learning some important lessons that we will discuss on Saturday to propose some new changes to make workflow more efficient.

Nov 3, 2014
  • Create first draft of spreadsheet with all Ideo design solutions with different subcategories. Categories are a bit mixed up right now but will straighten out tomorrow.

Nov 2, 2014
  • Created a Design page layout for the popup tent solution including a design mandala page
  • The design mandala starts at the top and new knowledge is added in a downward direction. It is divided into radial sectors with social / cultural / psychological / local environment on the left and technical / engineering / scientific / manufacturing / industrial design to the right. All these sectorial ideas can be connected to each other. 
  • start using Google spreadsheets for capturing pros and cons - this one for pros and cons of manufacturing options for popup tent. I captured Andy's thoughts and restructured them.
  • These can be used as templates for any design team doing their detailed design planning

Nov 1, 2014
Great first meeting of the Ebola War Room group on Skype today:
Present were:
  • Miriam Canadian PhD student in health sciences, Medical anthropology, native Cameroonian and doer of many health care projects in Africa
  • Siyo, Dr. and cultural expert from Africa, practicing in Canada and in Ottawa attending a conference today to present a poster on  contraceptive ideas in market women in Nigeria 
  • Andy, Industrial designer and circular economy MBA student from Australia
  • Josef, Design student from Netherlands
  • David, General Practitioner from UK who came up with the brilliant low tech popup protection tent idea we are all working on right now
  • Jay of Coolshirts, in absentia (was on a plane flight unfortunately!) but who can give us some good ideas of low tech cooling ideas for West Africa
  • Jay was featured in a great Huffpost article today: about the OPEN IDEO Challenge.
  • Today's meeting was a general introduction to each other and discussion focused on David Walker's great idea of a low tech, rapid to implement popup tent that can make a huge difference on the community side to perform harm reduction and protect caregivers from ebola. The minutes are posted up on our Kerika page if you want to help. We meet again next week at 2pm South Africa Standard Time (noon London time, 8am, Ottawa time). Send me your skype adddress if you want to participate. Our goal is to have a rough team design brief ready within a week or two based on all the ideas discussed during the meeting. We will use the design page to upload all hacks.

Oct 30,, 2014 -
  • Added color coded lines so that the lines don't look like a big mess crossing each other and makes it easier to trace major focus areas such as community, data & it, international aid, etc,
  • Added a contact list near bottom left of main brainstorming page for people to add contact details...mostly for skype calls
  • Added a new information bubble: WHO Situation Report, issued on a regular basis for team commentary.
  • Added a new intuitive holistic solution page that has intuitive icons that show the major focus areas. We will hyperlink the icons so when you click on it, it will take you to the right section in the more complex Solutions mindmap page.

Oct 29, 2014
  • restructured the architecture. It's a lot more organized now. Easier to read and less cluttered.
    • Blue rectangles contain all the IDEO solutions,
    • Yellow rectangles contain solution design details and
    • Light Orange bubbles contain reference information.
  • Create an Ex-patriate page. I'm excited about bringing ex-patriate individuals and organizations on board..they play a ciritical role to solving the problem.
  • Added Community Outreach - establish an IT link between citizens of Ideo (and the world) and West African communities hardest hit using Google Loon technology and / or Microsoft TV White Space technology.

Oct 28, 2014 UPDATE - Making all BLUE RECTANGULAR HEADINGS ICON double up as pages for reference information as well. If you need to find or place reference information on the idea named in the BLUE RECTANGE ICON, click it then open it.

Oct 29, 2014 UPDATE - Hi everyone, Just a warning that if you go to Kerika today, it may look a bit chaotic. I'm doing some major restructuring right now to try to display all the solutions in a sensible way. I'll send everyone who's interested in participating here an email to see if they would like to have a tutorial on how to use Kerika.

Oct 28, 2014 UPDATE - You may experience problems with accessing the Kerika pages. I did. Their admin sent me a message yesterday that they are having problems with Google. Kerika uses Google services on the backend and any service disruption at Google will impact Kerika. I was able to get in but only after a lot of attempts. Just be aware that you might face the same issue.

Oct 27, 2014 UPDATE - Hi everyone. I'm just starting to populate the YELLOW BOXED DESIGN PAGES so that people can actually do collaborative designs within them. It's linked up with Google Drive so you can easily import design documents uploaded to Google Drive. I am also figuring out how we can make best use of the Kerika SCRUM boards for project management. The scrum boards are a great tool for getting things done. They are used in software design and the porcess of using this boards to manage a project from beginning to end is called a SPRINT (like sprinting to the finish line!). You can use the SCRUM boards for planning milestones, assigning teammembers,seeing where bottlenecks are and overcoming them etc How far you can take your designs will all depend on the teams we can put together. A design takes a specialized team to complete. The more diverse skillsets available on the Open Ideo platform, the more chances designs will be completed. ...then there's the matter of time resources of people. It's all an experiment and we'll see where it goes! If USAID is going to select the best ideas, this platform can at least be used to refine the design solution ideas if complete designs are not possible. It would be great to have a skills database that lists people's skillset and availability. Would anyone be interested in that? Probably need specialized skills in these areas: mobile app/database/web/embedded/windows programming, CAD, health expertise, mechanical engineering, industrial design, electrical engineering, anthropology, material science, biology,biochemistry, chemistry, infectious disease, manufacturing, plastics molding, food production, waste management, renewable energy, fabric design, sheetmetal work...I'm sure there's more I missed. 

Of course we are talking here about new solutions only. Some suggested solutions are from existing technologies. 

Oct 27, Oct 2014 UPDATE - Rebecca made a good point...we need to somehow establish contact with local community groups in the stricken areas. I've been trying to do this but no response yet. If anyone has any contact leads, please let me know.

Oct 25, 2014 UPDATE - While creating the information architecture on the Kerika Brainstorming page and analyzing data to upload to it today whilst beginning to add some of my fav Ideo solutions found on this website, I believe I have found a compelling rationale of why 2 of the ideo solutions, when combined with current US DOD, USAID initiative to build 1700 beds in 17 x 100 bed treatment units can solve the epidemic. It is based on a combination of CDC director Tom Friedman's identification of the main problem areas on the treatment and community side AND some of the Ideo solutions. I have identified 2 Ideo generated solutions that when combined with the US DOD Operation United Assistance provides a complete solution to the problem that Tom Friedman has characterized. The two key ideo ideas are:

David Walker's popup tent:

and Kate Cho's rubber cholera bed:

David is pretty enthusiastic about his idea, and rightly so but perhaps he wasn't aware of how his solution aligns so perfectly with the CDC's identification of the problem areas. 

Operation United Assistance can go a long way in solving 1 of the 3 problems identified by Tom Friedman...rapidly providing sufficient treatment centers. This is on the treatment side of things. Tom identifies 2 other serious infection sources on the community side: home care and burial practice. A practical and low cost design that fuses David and Kate's design could solve both these problems PLUS another source of infections. Education campaigns are ramping into overdrive now and these can help reduce the cases of infection through prevention. However, there will still be people who may not heed it. If this low tech solution is culturally acceptable, it could be a middle ground between protection and cultural practices, allowing the practices to continue in a safe protective way. We would definitely need anthropologists to weigh in on this.

If the NYU hackathon coming up can work with David and Kate on this integrated solution as one of their hack ideas and come up with a low cost and robust design, it could solve the other 2 major problems identified by Tom Friedman PLUS the problem of isolation infected and highly contagious cadavers. The design would have to be done rapidly and prototyped. If successful, it should be rapidly manufactured using the fastest available techniques. 


Ideo is a great, unique platform but there's too many ideas an no way to look at them all in a holistic, integrated way. This is a complex multi-dimensional problem and unless we come up with a holistic plan that coordinates all the ideas together, we won't succeed in solving it...there are far too many feedback effects that must be taken into consideration.

Health officials say that one of the most ineffective aspects of the global response to Ebola is the lack of coordination. Too many efforts, lack of coordination = huge wasted resources.

In the same manner, we have so many ideas here, we need to organize them into a logical and integrated framework so that we can see the forest instead of the trees. If we don't, then what appears as a solution may be ineffective or worse, even harmful. Hence, solutions cannot be provided in isolation. We don't want to repeat the same mistake.

A network of solutions with social, technological, community, behavioral, cultural and educational components has to be considered simultaneously to be truly effective. It only takes one weak, unaddressed areas to cause the entire solution to come crashing down.

There is no reason why users cannot grow and extend this project organically by using other cloud tools already available. A next logical step can be to gather interest from Ideo members to have a skype or google chat teleconference to take the growing list of these ideas and put them into a logical structure. 

What I've noticed is a lot of repitition of the same theme. Those main themes and their variations can be extracted and put onto a cloud-based  agile, mind map and project planning tool I often use for project planning called Kerika.

It's free to join and I can make the first draft of the mind map that captures all the information on this Ideo Ebola campaign and cluster them into logical categories.

We can make it open access to anyone who wants to join and contribute.

Right now, in the world, we are seeing a dramatic failure at global governance playing out in many different cases:

1. Climate Change - this lack of leadership has been going on for decades and has now endangered humanity.
2. Middle East - no resolution for decades. ISIL or ISIS is just the latest consequence of decades long failed governmental policy.
3. Ebola - MSF is crying for help and nothing is coming except more talk as indicated in these recent stories:

It's up to the people to step up now and do something.

People can them contribute their ideas in a more organic way not constrained by fixed column format and together, users can create a global mind map that reflects a holistic solution. This can allow us to make a citizen's war-room. Everytime I look at the news all they say is the projections it is getting worse.There is a paucity of information of how it is actually spread. We need to know what is happening on the ground in order to stop it. Why is that information not available? In the age of the internet, you would think there is at least a few computers with internet and email or bloggers from those countries? Why can't we the people, contact the people there ourselves and begin direct dialogue so we hear directly from the horse's mouth what is going on?

My vision is: why wait for sponsors to do something? We can also do it ourselves. Let's turn these great ideas into real action. Brice de le Vingne, director of operations Medecins Sans Frontieres, the leading medical charity that has been at the forefront in the fight against Ebola in West Africa referring to governments and international organizations said: "They are deploying as we speak, but we still don't see the results on the field," he said. "The speed of the deployment is still lower than the speed of the epidemic, and that is problematic."

A recent Guardian story:

reveals what many have suspected, that economic interest likely delayed the right actions. There was a critical breakdown within WHO itself with the Guinean branch not informing head office of the seriousness of the situation. It took aggresive action from frontline agency Medecins Sans Frontieres to finally reveal to WHO head office what was happening. This gives us yet another reason why a citizen's movement operating synergistically in parallel has value. It's difficult to put trust in authorities when there is economic and poltical interest at stake in a crisis as serious as Ebola.

This is where agile citizen's movements can contribute with little time dealy. We can devise an action plan, bring in community stakeholders, set milestones and see if we can hit them. At the very least we can have an action plan we can turn over to the project sponsors that will already give them a planning leg up.

We should definitely invite people who have been on the ground and also speak to people from those countries to give us insight into the culture and what daily life is like, etc...

Anyone who is interested can just comment on this post. Power to us, the people.



Join the conversation:

Photo of Rainer Winkler

Good idea, maybe your proposal helps to get more in touch with the people in West Africa. It is difficult to assess solutions when I am so far away. The language is also a big problem, the main language in Guinea is French.

Photo of James (Gien) Wong

Yes, Rainer,

It's like watching from afar. I can only imagine how chaotic it is must be in Liberia especially. But I will try to contact some of the health workers who have been there or perhaps universities and their students who may have a computer and internet access already.

I also suggested:


which would be related to this current suggestion.

You and Hilary are welcome to invite others to the space as well. Other people I will invite are: anthropologist, counsellor, psychologists, mental health workers, open source community, maker engineers, we can grow it into a real solution space.

With Kerika, I need email address to invite you. You can email me at my organizations email address to retain your privacy here. It's

Kerika can be open to the entire ideo community. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a public mode so you have to invite people to join any project.

Photo of Jacques Safari

Hi James, I agree with you and I find your idea very interesting! I'm keen on joining the initiative. I have just sent you an email.
Rainer, don't worry about the language barrier, am sure there are french speakers out there who can join the project. I am a french speaker and I can help with that.

Photo of Rebecca Buechel

hi James, great initiative. I'd like to participate! Will send my email

Photo of James (Gien) Wong

Hi Rebbeca, got it. Hope you're able to sort out the google drive issue. Kerika asks you because you can connect any google drive document you want to the canvas. Alternatively, they offer a sign-in using their own product called "Box". I've never tried it myself.

Photo of James (Gien) Wong

Come join us to build our mindmaps! I've already contacted a number of different expatriates from Liberia, the minister of information from Liberia and also community groups working within Liberia. I'll establish a mindmap next for the ideal holistic solution. That will be the mother of all Ebola solution mind maps. What we'll do there is allow anyone to pull in their favorite solutions from each category and by placing them all on one mindmap, we can begin to see emergent properties as solutions interact with each other. We'll also be able to show dependency relationships and feedbacks so we can see how problems in one area affect other areas. From analyzing this, we can identify critical solutions which a lot of other solutions depend on.

I'm trying to find community groups in Sierra Lione and Guinea next. We need to establish regular communications so we know what the needs of the communities are. Having this feedback will be tremendously important to help us design solutions specifically for the community.

Photo of Jay Buckalew

COOLSHIRT SYSTEMS would like to participate and help in any way we can with the Hackathon my email is We have submitted several cooling solutions for PPE.

Photo of James (Gien) Wong


Also go to the hackathon website at:

and register yourself there in case they don't see your message here.

Photo of Jay Buckalew

Will do - Thanks !

Photo of Danqing Ye

Count me in too, would like to be part of the group and helping contributing refining the ideas. My email

Photo of James (Gien) Wong

Hi Jay and Danqing, check your emails...if the Kerika invitation is not there, check your spam box...sometimes the spam filter filters it out. We look forward to your contributions.

Photo of Miriam Nguilefem

Hi james,Count me in too! Your idea is really great! would like to be part of the initiative and contribute ideas especially coming from West Africa email address is

Photo of James (Gien) Wong

Thanks Mariam. Could you help me with one task? I am contacting Ex-patriate associations of West Africa around the world: Liberia, Guinea, SIerra Lione, the hardest hit ones but others in Africa good too. We need their inputs on our work here so that we know we are on the right track. Ex-pats like yourself know what life is like on the ground and can also act as a valuable intermediary to the communities there. One of my ideas is to establish direct citizen-to-citizen communications to the afflicted communities. One good reason for this is that citizen's there will have far more trust in ex-pat friends and relatives than their own government. I will invite you now. Let me know if this is something you can help to do. I assume you must have friends and relatives in West Africa? If so, we can start to brainstorm around how to set up a communication link with them. I know internet is very poor there. We have to get coverage maps and see where the best internet coverage is. Perhaps if we get a large enough group here, we can talk to Google and see if they can send a Google Loon balloon to West Africa and give us the coverage we need to talk to communities. Or altenatively, we can ask Microsoft, who is trialing internet broadcast over unused TV whitespace frequency bands. Then we can see if we can work with a local service provider there to setup community communication stations to the rest of the world.

Check your email for the invitation to Kerika. Check your spam folder too. Sometimes it goes there. Go browse around the's still in development. I'm getting a good idea what the structure should look like now. If you have any questions, post them here.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

For contacts on the ground maybe Hilary can help. She worked for the Peace Corp in Guinea. See this blog post.

Photo of James (Gien) Wong

OK. Cool! I'll let her know you referred me and invite her!

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

She is the one who posted the comment above. She works for OpenIDEO. I read her blog post - really good - and that is how I know she was in Guinea. So that is why I mentioned it!

Photo of Lynn Lawry

Thank you Bettina!

Hi James, yes, I am known for my work in documenting gender based violence and was just in Sierra Leone working SGBV documentation for access to justice and health (April 2014). In addition, I have documented SGBV among many other topics in many countries on a national or regional level and have 20 years of working all over Africa. I am happy to take a look and be part of this is I add value. I really appreciate you reaching out to me. Skype llawryllllll

OK so here are some of my suggestions that I am not seeing on the spreadsheets:

1: GBV is a huge problem in Liberia and Sierra Leone (OK everywhere, but I have researched it in these two countries in depth) but there are robust campaigns that need women's health and GBV integrated into existing programs so that is it is understood that a survivor still carries virus in sperm and breast milk and that women present differently;

2) Baselines studies on beliefs/trust/community treatments etc...are desperately needed to understand how communities view and deal with Ebola and what their beliefs and needs are (not necessarily what we think they need or believe). I have many stories of about how the community views the Western treatment facilities and it is not what you would expect

3) Capacity building/resilience- training tailors and seamstresses to learn to make and stockpile PPEs

4) The medical knowledge (older physicians with memory) have died in this disaster, we need to rebuild the capacity of the medical sector including helping out the medical and nursing schools (esp in Sierra Leone and Liberia) and having them set up training for these diseases in addition to training about SGBV (believe or not in Sierra Leone, SGBV is not taught in medical school).

These are my ideas on first pass.

Photo of James (Gien) Wong

Hey Lynn. Those are all great ideas...and ones which mainstream press, and probably most aid agencies have missed. I'd like you to invite you to the OPEN IDEO Kerika board which, as the images show, is an active integrated solution framework a team of us citizens is building which shows all the solutions required for an effective short term AND long term response. Unfortunately I need to invite people to the platform as the projects are not open. I also found out it needs to be a gmail address as I inadvertently configured it for gmail. I'm trying to see if I can change that so that it can accept any email address but I think it may be too late once a project is created. Anyways, send me a gmail at and I'll send you an invitation and you can start building up the knowledge base with other team members.

Photo of OB Roy

A great way of enlisting support is via LinkedIn and Facebook. Surprisingly I have found very little response from the Expat community but an overwhelming response from people of all walks of life in the countries concerned. So in Liberia our work us being organised by Liberians for Liberians. Perhaps the Expat Community can be mobilised by Expats?

Photo of James (Gien) Wong

Hi OB, I will put you in touch with Sei. He's Liberian Ex-pat organizing shipments back to Liberia. He lives in the US. He has a lot to contribute and can help mobilize the Ex-pat community. I also know an Ex-pat from Sierra Leone who lives in Canada who is quite active right now.

Photo of OB Roy

Great! Let's get into EBOLA ACTION NOW and start concentrating on establishing contact with the TRIBAL HIERARCHY in LIBERIA, SIERRA LEONE and GUINEA, through the PARAMOUNT CHEiFS and their NETWORK to determine what can be done IMMEDIATELY, this week, next week, this month to support the indigenous population in facing the EBOLA CRISIS. If we really want to make a difference we have to develop ways of addressing the problems of Ebola that local people can take and apply immediately, translating them into their own contexts by traditional methods using traditional materials and resources they have readily at hand. If we seriously wish to mitigate against 1.4 million potential cases of EBOLA INFECTION by FEB/MARCH 2015 we must devise ways implicating LOCAL COMMUNITIES NOW.

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