Towards novel community-based collaborative disaster management approaches in the new information environment: an NGO perspective

Marc van den Homberg, Martijn Neef


Large scale natural and man-made disasters are complex events involving many stakeholders. Despite the structures the national and international humanitarian system provide, still many collaboration and information gaps between stakeholders, levels of operations and phases in the disaster management cycle occur. In the recovery phase, communities are insufficiently involved and comprehensive knowledge about the affected environment is missing leading to mismatches between efforts of the different actors and the community needs and prolonged recovery trajectories at higher costs. The rapidly changing and new information environment consisting of mobile services, social media, social networks, crowdsourcing and online communities offers new opportunities to engage with communities but also new challenges to stay abreast of all that’s communicated digitally. New collaborative approaches will be required to diminish these gaps. The EU funded COBACORE develops a collaborative platform that facilitates the interaction between members of the professional, affected and responding communities. It helps to register needs, capacities, activities and acquire situational information by the whole, and provides facilities to obtain better matching of needs and capacities. Adoption and ownership by communities is essential and should be investigated for example by building and piloting a localized version of the platform. Such a localized platform should enable both digital and non-digital ways of interaction given that many disaster affected communities live in resource-poor environments. The platform can be used as well as a cooperative development game for the responding community and professionals to improve their cooperation and coordination skills. Although NGOs are not social computing organizations, it is recommended to expedite developing a basic social computing understanding (and possibly capability) in-house so that digital technologies can be incorporated into relief and recovery activities more easily.


disaster recovery, new information environment, community-based, collaboration gaps

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