There are several tools which we recommend and use.  At this early stage of our organization, we may not be able to directly help in your humanitarian crisis due to lack of funding and support.  While we are growing, here is a list of tools you might find useful in your time of need (Note that we have selected these as they can all be used without a connection to the Internet.  There are MANY free services that require Internet access to use and those will be covered elsewhere.):

  • Sahana – Sahana is a Free and Open Source Disaster Management system.  Sahana alone may be exactly the web based application for most disaster response needs.  At the very least, it should be a major building block of your strategy.
  • IRC – Internet Relay Chat is a well established technology which is scalable and remarkably fault-tolerant.  There are several existing implementations which have helped in the past.  Among these, we recommend Freenode.
  • Trouble Ticket Systems – These are systems which provide a method to track individual cases and incidents.  They are used by many companies and organizations to handle customer service and emergency response.  By far the most well developed of these is Request Tracker by Best Practical Solutions, LLC.  Best Practical have also created a plug-in for Request Tracker which handles Incident Response.  Because Request Tracker may be difficult for some people to install, C4I for Humanity also recommends osTicket as a simple yet full-featured alternative. A complete list of open source help desk software is available here.
  • Wiki – A wiki is a website that allows the easy creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser. The most famous wiki is Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  You can install one of a number of wiki systems to help disseminate the latest information in a web page format.  We suggest the same system used by Wikipedia, Media Wiki as the most full-featured and easy to use version.
  • WordPress – Originally, a web based journaling software (blog), WordPress has evolved into a well documented, highly extensible content management system.  For those reasons and because it is extremely easy to use, we suggest it as the software to run your main information site.  The journaling part is exceptionally well suited to the creation of a “News” page which can be syndicated to the public and to media outlets.  C4I for Humanity uses it extensively, and in fact, you’re looking at the result right now.
  • LAMP – “Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP” is the underlying framework of most of the tools we use and recommend.  The LAMP framework is free and well documented.  It is robust and relatively secure out of the box.  Most web hosting providers support LAMP as a standard feature, including many of the lower-priced ones.  The software needed to create the LAMP framework is entirely free and Open Sourced.  For those who prefer a Windows based server platform, the equivalent is WAMP.  The suite of software that is actually needed can be run from other operating systems as well, such as Unix, Solaris, and MacOS X.

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