The Internet Response League (IRL) was recently launched for online gamers to participate in supporting disaster response operations. A quick introduction to IRL is available here. Humanitarian organizations are increasingly turning to online volunteers to filter through social media reports (e.g. tweets, Instagram photos) posted during disasters. Online gamers already spend millions of hours online every day and could easily volunteer some of their time to process crisis information without ever having to leave the games they’re playing.
Lets take World of Warcraft, for example. If a gamer has opted in to receive disaster alerts, they’d see screens like the one above when logging in or like the one below whilst playing a game.
If a gamer accepts the invitation to join the Internet Response League, they’d see the “Disaster Tagging” screen below. There they’d tag as many pictures as wish by clicking on the level of disaster damage they see in each photo. Naturally, gamers can exit the disaster tagging area at any time to return directly to their game.
Each picture would be tagged by at least 3 gamers in order to ensure the accuracy of the tagging. That is, if 3 volunteers tag the same image as “Severe”, then we can be reasonably assured that the picture does indeed show infrastructure damage. These pictures would then be sent back to IRL and shared with humanitarian organizations for rapid damage assessment analysis. There are already precedents for this type of disaster response tagging. Last year, the UN asked volunteers to tag images shared on Twitter after a devastating Typhoon hit the Philippines. More specifically, they asked them to tag images that captured the damage caused by the Typhoon. You can learn more about this humanitarian response operation here.
IRL is now looking to develop a disaster response plugin like the one described above. This way, gaming companies will have an easily embeddable plugin that they can insert into their gaming environments. For more on this plugin and the latest updates on IRL, please visit the IRL website here. We’re actively looking for feedback and welcome collaborators and partnerships.
Acknowledgements: Screenshots created by my colleague Peter Mosur who is the co-founder of the IRL.