Smartphones speed up flood response in Solomon Islands

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

World Vision is using smartphone technology to speed up an assessment of the needs of flood-affected communities and distribution of emergency relief items.

World Vision commissioned the development of the app, Field Task. It is free and can downloaded onto smartphones from the Android shop. Data is entered into pre-determined fields and can then be exported to a spreadsheet when assessment teams are back in the office using wifi.

The technology takes half the time to collect data in the field, and can be uploaded and used for aid distributions. 

World Vision is partnering with other aid organisations as part of a multi-agency co-ordination group using smartphone technology, including Field Task, in communities in Honiara and Guadalcanal Plains.

“On the first day of using the technology for this emergency response, we assessed the needs of families affected by the flood and collected 400 households worth of data. In the past, when paper forms were used, it would have taken nearly twice as long to collect the data in the field and then several days to input the data. Now it’s uploaded overnight and we can use it to inform aid distributions the next day,” said Peter Weston, programme quality manager – WV Solomon Islands.

Smartphone technology improves the quality of data collection and reduces the risk of error since the data only needs to be entered once.

An assessment team met 50 year old Sherlly Vichi in Guadalcanal Plains over the Easter period. On the first night of the floods, Sherlly sheltered with her community. That night her home and garden were washed away. “I’m worried because I normally sell vegetables and use the money to help pay school fees for my children and grandchildren. Now I can’t help,” said Sherlly.

The speed at which assessment data from smartphones can inform distributions will help get relief to families like Sherlly’s faster and based on accurate assessment data. 

“Time is of the essence in an emergency, so the faster we can assess people’s needs, the faster we can deliver relief to those who need it the most,” said Dr Andrew Catford, World Vision Solomon Islands Country Director.

Distributions of family kits and shelter kits began in Guadalcanal Plains on Easter Sunday. Items in the family kit include a bucket, soap, plates, cups, blankets a mosquitio net and a jerry can.

More than 52,000 people have been impacted by the floods that began earlier in April.