In this time of pandemic induced national disaster, we are yet again faced with unusual and unforeseen conditions that makes response difficult at best. Innovation in the face of adversity, however, is an American tradition – Necessity is the Mother of Invention is a phrase for a reason. Innovation, however, needs to happen in a safe and moderated way during a disaster in order to protect responders and victims alike. Crisis incidents be they natural disasters, Mass Casualty, CBRN or terrorism incidents are by their nature unpredictable. Constraints exist on the amount of technology and supplies that can be delivered in an emergency to First Responders on site, community Hospitals, and Shelters dealing with the realities of a given situation. Different types of events present different difficulties: being cut-off from standard supplies; dealing with broken or inadequate equipment; not having a solution in the resource arsenal to deal with an unexpected situation. Standardized processes or tool innovations can take months or years to develop. Yet, often, the best innovation has occurred in the pressure cooker of the moment and has been subsequently lost because of inadequate follow up and feedback to the designers of existing technology or the producers of new technology. We propose that an on-scene, rapid-prototyping, user-driven innovation process can eliminate or reduce problems in the field, provide a process of continuous improvement for tools, equipment, and processes, while empowering those directly involved to effect substantive change in their respective industries. Just as critical, a seat at the NIMS table in on-site situation management would allow for innovation to happen through ‘proper channels’ and be done in safe-to-all manner and reduce the distractions to on-site leadership with a single-point-of-contact setup. Lastly, and possibly most important, a clearinghouse back-end that allows situation managers to solicit innovative ‘help’ from universities or individual researchers, collates new effective innovations or best practices for future event response, and a created bi-directional conduit to manufacturing that allow for rapid feedback to manufacturers of existing rescue and response equipment with field driven innovation or modification and support for inventors of new tools and equipment to get product to market in a quicker fashion.
What it does
Goals of a RRIDD program:
- Rapid response in crisis: Provide the capability to improvise and adapt available tools, technology and materials to meet equipment and process gaps; to deal with unexpected conditions beyond existing equipment mechanical specifications; to document innovations in tools, technology, and process; and to identify and extract the innovations that should be polished and commercialized for broader use.
- Response to Humanitarian Events: Provide a coordinated capability that can be deployed for longer term humanitarian crises and events. This capability would include the maker resources of a Mobile Fab Units (ex. Burners without Borders), Makerspaces and Innovation Labs around the world, independent researchers and craftspersons in addition to training resources and personnel to be dispatched on longer term to areas in ongoing need of humanitarian aid. This cadre may be utilized not only for the obvious fabrication, repair and improvisation required in shorter term crises locations, but also for their capacity to facilitate innovation, entrepreneurial, technology transfer, rapid solution development, prototype deployment, and product testing programs. These capacities will serve those in need as well as organizations interested in deploying new and emerging technologies in these environments.
- Recovery tools: Improve recovery oriented tools and processes and serve as a clearinghouse for ideas and suggestions, channeling innovations into appropriate industries for further development, and contributing data and documentation to other organizations such as FEMA, DHS, and the DDP.
- Technical innovation to assist future crisis or event response: Create a process to take new ideas, modifications, and improvements developed in the field, documenting the results and events in 1 and 2 above, and ensuring appropriate follow-up in the relevant industry or Maker community.
- Network: The Maker Commnity as whole has earned the respect of several key stakeholders in multiple industries. Yet, there is a noticeable disconnect when projects get to the point of getting to scale. Seeking out and partnering with influential corporate entities to create a stable of relevant and motivated supporters to act on bringing concepts to fruition. Additionally, act as the point of contact and liaison for university groups and outside R&D working on Disaster Relief or Response projects to field test, observe, or document their products. Provide an avenue for these researchers to be able to develop and deploy solutions.
How I built it
Group effort with folks from the Nation of Makers - Disaster Working Group, Joel Leonard, Allyson Elisabeth, Bob Bownes, Laban Coblentz, Tinker|RI, Tech Valley Center of Gravity, and the folks here on our Hackathon team
Challenges I ran into
Vetting by EMA and Disaster Response has been helpful but hard to find. LOTS of support from lower level folks at NGOs, Disaster Relief Orgs/VOADs, and State and Federal folks - but very hard getting this up the ladder, so to speak, to get buy-in from decision maker and funding-finders.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
This project has been in the works for a few years now, this has pushed to get it in a much more finalized position.
What I learned
Not enough time to type that right now!!
What's next for Rapid Response Innovation Deployment for Disasters
Get FUNDING. Get LAUNCHED. There is a NEED for more coordination, especially along the community response level. With over 3,000 makerspaces and well over 40,000 members - plus over 300 r+d facilities - in the US this is a massive as yet un-harnessed resource - add in the 100s of thousands of crafters and hobbyists and this is an army of willing and able help in the event of true disaster.