Crowdsourcing Humanitarian Convoys in Libya

Many activists in Egypt donated food and medical supplies to support the Libyan revolution in early 2011. As a result, volunteers set up and coordinated humanitarian convoys from major Egyptian cities to Tripoli. But these convoys faced two major problems. First, volunteers needed to know where the convoys were in order to communicate this to Libyan revolutionists so they could wait for the fleet at the border and escort them to Tripoli. Second, because these volunteers were headed into a war zone, their friends and family wanted to keep track of them to make sure they were safe. The solution?

Inta feen? means “where are you?” in Arabic and is a mobile check-in service like Foursquare but localized for the Arab World. Convoy drivers used IntaFeen to check-in at different stops along the way to Tripoli to provide regular updates on the situation. This is how volunteers back in Egypt who coordinated the convoy kept track of their progress and communicated updates in real-time to their Libyan counterparts. Volunteers who went along with the convoys also used IntaFeen and their check-in’s would also get posted on Twitter and Facebook, allowing families and friends in Egypt to track their whereabouts.

Al Amain Road is a highway between Alexandria and Tripoli. These tweets and check-in’s acted as a DIY fleet management system for volunteers and activists.

The use of IntaFeen combined with Facebook and Twitter also created an interesting side-effect in terms of social media marketing to promote activism. The sharing of these updates within and across various social networks galvanized more Egyptians to volunteer their time and resulted in more convoys.

I wonder whether these activists knew about another crowdsourced volunteer project taking place at exactly the same time in support of the UN’s humanitarian relief operations: Libya Crisis Map. Much of the content added to the map was sourced from social media. Could the #LibyaConvoy project have benefited from the real-time situational awareness provided by the Libya Crisis Map?

Will we see more convergence between volunteer-run crisis maps and volunteer-run humanitarian response in the near future?

Big thanks to Adel Youssef from who spoke about this fascinating project (and Ushahidi) at Where 2.0 this week. More information on #Libya Convoy is available here. See also my earlier blog posts on the use of check-in’s for activism and disaster response.

9 responses to “Crowdsourcing Humanitarian Convoys in Libya

  1. Pingback: Featured News 4/6/12 « ** Human Rights in the News **

  2. Pingback: Resveratrol – Barbara Walters + ABC News 4 Important Facts About Anti-aging Products - Revitalizes skin for anti aging

  3. Pingback: Does the Humanitarian Industry Have a Future in The Digital Age? | iRevolution

  4. Very interesting… Not only from the security perspective, but also as a way to inform donors on the delivery of aid, using social media!

  5. Pingback: Building Egypt 2.0: When Institutions Fail, Crowdsourcing Surges | iRevolution

  6. Pingback: Crowdsourcing Disaster Response in Iran: How Volunteers Bypassed the State | iRevolution

  7. Pingback: How Civil Resistance Protests Improve Crowdsourced Disaster Response (and Vice Versa) | iRevolution

  8. Pingback: Crowdsourcing Humanitarian Convoys in Libya | Wireless Stars

  9. Pingback: How Crowdsourced Disaster Response in China Threatens the Government | iRevolution

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s