Setting up Web Servers, HOT meet-ups and learning data visualisation (British Red Cross GIS)

I started my first week with the Red Cross on Tuesday (wonderfully detailed information about the team here by Helena) . After being set-up with my desk and all the IT services I was told that they had a (sort of urgent) task for me already! The mapping team is closely linked with the Phillipines Red Cross team who are working on resheltering after the recent typhoon. In order to do this, the Red Cross decided to set-up a survey downloadable on smart phones to assess the damage in each household.  Unfortunately some of the open source software behind this is facing downtime due to increased global usage and lack of personnel etc. This meant that the Red Cross could not rely on the relevant servers and had to set up its own instance using Amazon’s Cloud Computing Services. This was important as the next set of surveys was due in a week and this would be an essential part of a multi-million dollar project.

So that became an interesting and rapid way to join the team. After following some tutorials and Googling around for more specific settings for the server I managed to get most of it out of the way by the end of the day. That evening, I joined the team at a Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) meet-up and we were taught to map developing countries (from satellite imagery) so that local volunteers and charities could help with greater ease. This was fun and I recommend it if you would like to do good whilst on your laptop. More information here.

Humanitarian Open Street Map Meetup


I had completed setting up the (Formhub) instance by the end of the next day and had also had the chance to start several courses on data visualisation and web programming on lynda and Codecademy. Although I am familiar with Python, by the end of the internship I would like to understand and be able to work with modules such as d3.js. This would mean I can create great info graphics such as these. I have been doing these courses for the last couple of days and exploring the world of open data and initiatives such as paired with helping the team out with smaller programming related tasks.

It has been an insightful week which has provided the opportunities to learn explore and apply just as I had hoped.

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