An Alternative use of Pombola

http://www.flickr.com/photos/chiperoni/4467058836/in/photolist-7NJQXN-7NESjr-9tPnhS-9tPnJw-9tP7oW-9tLh3i-9tKYcx-9tLtZ4-9tLmuX-9tKZqe-9tPm1Y-9tLjVg-9tPizA-9tLBpv-9tLxTZ-9tP31u-9tLzM8-9tPwX1-9tNZLL-aeUJWV-9tKW4c-9tP3uq-9tPbsd-eUubvP-eUuc8x-9tPe6j-9tLg3D-9tKZJz-9tPMob-8irgZe-9tLxwB-bL43TX-9oSJRR-9u9dGq-9u9eu1-bx9khd-bx9jXw-bL3Zqv-dhtnm5-a88jno-7NJQJb-9tPzmo-9oQPY8-7EXEfD-9Berx8-9Bhjuq-9BddRG-9BddAL-9BaDr6-9oS2CX-bwdzz1/lightbox/

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about the Flexibility of FixMyStreet. Well, this is the second in that series. I’m aiming to give other ideas for uses of the code for Pombola, our monitoring website, which is currently used for Parliamentary monitoring platforms in a number of countries.

I say currently because as with all our platforms it doesn’t *have* to be used for parliamentary monitoring. In Pombola you can create a database of people, speeches and organisations, along with news streams (as a blog), social media streams and scorecards. You also have a geographical element which allows you to search for relevant local information in those databases that feed Pombola, such as your local MP.

We’re really interested in how our platforms could be used for unique uses, so if you have any other ideas don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Here are my ideas:

1) Monitoring progress towards climate change goals

The background: Climate change is a politically charged topic and many of the worlds governments have pledged to meet specific goals by 2020. [1] Organisations like Greenpeace are lobbying for wider recognition and stricter goals from participants. [2] And the impact of climate change is being attributed to everything from flooding to violence [3][4]

The concept: Create a site using the Pombola code base which has profiles of each government that has pledged to reach specific targets by 2020. The profiles would include a contact address for the department dealing with climate change, information on how often the speakers mention climate change, and information on the targets they have pledged to meet. You could scorecard each country to show how well they’ve progressed towards their goals and the best and worst would be showcased on the front page. If you had some time to do your own modifications then using a promise tracker and some infographics like a heatmap would really add to this!

Impact it would hope to achieve: The aim would be to create an easily understandable tool for monitoring government pledges to combat climate change worldwide. It would be a great tool for lobbyists and journalists, presenting data as both visualisation and statistics. It would also allow concerned citizens to raise their views through comments on each country profile, thus starting a public dialogue on the site (though this would need moderation).

2) Monitoring hospital performance in the Middle East and Africa

The background: Hospitals in the Middle East and Africa were surveyed in 2012 by an independent research group. The group found that an average of 8.2% of patients suffered adverse effects [5] of healthcare management. The WHO believed that this is a failing in training and healthcare management systems [6], which could be addressed.

The concept: Creating a website that would keep a database of hospitals across a country. Each hospital would have a profile with a breakdown of the services they offered, the area they covered and statistics about their performance, cleanliness and staff training initiatives. A user would be able to search for their city or district and find the best closest hospital to go to for care. You would be able to scorecard the hospitals to give users a first glance view of what the care is like. This really focusses on the core functionality that Pombola gives; a database of people and organisations linked to geographical locations to make it easy for people to see useful local information at a glance.

Impact it would hope to achieve: As well as giving people the information to make the best choices about their health care, this platform could provide important data for donors to enable them to target aid money to the most needy areas. The overall aim would be to hopefully help improve the quality of care by providing the best easily accessible data to people who can help with training.

3) Stripped down disaster response database

The background: Disaster response teams respond to numerous emergencies each year but sometimes the scope of the disaster can be overwhelming [7]. People are often separated and collecting information on who remains missing can be difficult, causing psychological strain. [8] Dependent on the scope and type of disaster people may be displaced for a significant amount of time.

The concept: A stripped down version of Pombola, simply involving mapping and people databases, to allow people to submit their names and the names of their families. Each person would have a status assigned to them (either missing or found) and people would be able to submit their updates via email to the central database. You could also associate found people with the aid organisation that has taken them in, so families would know who to contact. This could also allow the aid organisations to have a profile themselves, giving people the chance to comment to see if their loved ones had been found. The idea is that it would keep both the records of who is searching for people as well as the people themselves.

Impact it would hope to achieve: The idea behind this would be to bring psychological relief to friends and families searching for lost loved ones. It would be an electronic bulletin board of missing and found people, and even if people had no access to the internet, NGOs or civil society groups coordinating relief efforts could have, therefore would be able to provide a non-internet version of this service.

What would you use a site like Pombola for? Ideas on a postcard to international@mysociety.org

Photo credit cycler: Will Vanlue  | Photo credit G20 Sticker:Toban B  |  Photo credit Chocolate spread:nchenga

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/aug/02/emissions-reduction-target-15-percent

[2] http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/groups/cardiff/blog/hey-g8-what-about-climate

[3] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23538771

[4]http://science.time.com/2013/07/17/the-costs-of-climate-change-and-extreme-weather-are-passing-the-high-water-mark/

[5] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-17359796

[6]http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1112494030/study-finds-developing-countries-suffer-from-poor-hospital-care/

[7] Page 3 http://goo.gl/khZBPn

[8] http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/ICT_for_Disaster_Management/ICT_for_Disaster_Response

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