A special DIStress hotline could help people report any unrest or possible atrocities. A DIS number with a special extension could be allocated to areas/cities. For example, the DIS number for Syria is 797 and the identifier for Damascus is 1, the caller would dial 7971. This would help the monitoring station identify the location of the calls.
While my original concept was for mobile phones, I’ve revised this version to include both cell phones and landlines. A caller could call the DIS number from any phone.
Allowing text messages to a DIS number is another possibility. This is where is see this concept blending well with Christophe Bilen’s concept to verify information instantly.
Chris S suggested using packet switched radios to make this concept cellular infrastructure independent.
"You only need 910 packet-switched radios to cover the entire country of Syria.
Here's the math: A radio with a 5 mile radius has a coverage area of 78 miles. The entire area of Syria is 71,000 square miles. 71,000 / 78 = 910.
It might be possible for Allison's packet switched radio device to receive signals directly from Ava's cell phone without having to go through a cell phone network.
Not only would it be carrier-independent, it would be cellular infrastructure independent."
Given my limited knowledge about this technology, I was unable to elaborate further. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
The USAID and Humanity International could partner with missionaries and NGO’s already present in the area to help spread the word and educate the population. Also, Arjan Tupan’s Enabler Cards would be perfect for this purpose. This information could be given out at schools, local shops, community events, etc… The locals could be encouraged to elect some specific trustworthy individuals in their community to make DIS calls.
Perhaps the USAID and Humanity International could partner with NGO’s and peacekeepers already present in the area to help monitor the calls. These facilities often have some form of communication such as the internet or phone lines. For example, they are given devices to recieve DIS calls and texts only from the number allocated to the area/city. Depending on the number and quality of the calls, the receivers could determine the risk level and report it accordingly. These reports could be published by leveraging existing platforms such as Ushahidi.
There could possibly be some limitations is deploying and sustaining this concept. Especially with a government led atrocity, during which NGOs and peacekeepers are driven out, monitoring and reporting calls could be difficult. Perhaps using radio technology would be helpful.
NGO volunteers/employees could fear for their own safety in monitoring and reporting these calls.
Ava is a village teacher and also a designated member of the community to help make distress calls.
She notices some unpleasant strangers around the village. She asks her neighbors if they knew those men. A neighbor tells her that some people have been asking suspicious questions and that he is starting to get worried.
Ava is now worried and thinks she should report this incident. The USAID and Humanity United have provided a special DIS number for her village to report such disturbances. Ava calls the DIS number and leaves a message.
The USAID and Humanity Unlimited work with NGOs/peacekeepers that serve as intermediaries in the region. The calls and texts are directed to these NGOs.
Others around the village are sensing distress and making these calls as well. The DIS number allows people to call and leave messages to protect the anonymity of the caller and the receiver.
The NGO receiving these calls is noticing a rise in the communication to this DIS number. It could now report this and decide on a course of action.