Innovation at the Sahana Software Foundation: Interview with Mark Prutsalis

Today, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Prutsalis from the Sahana Software Foundation.  We spoke for a while on the history and vision for Sahana, a non-profit organization developing open source software for disaster management and humanitarian needs.  In recent years, it has had a lot of success and is poised to continue. Some highlights from the audio below:

  • Sahana was built by a local technology group in the aftermath if the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004.
  • In 2009, the local technology group discovered they had a different mission and Mark took it over as part of the Sahana Software Foundation.
  • New York City, Los Angeles, and International Red Cross all use Sahana software.
  • Current software version is "hard to use out of the box" and development focus right now is on project requirements.
  • There are plans to become more strategic and shift to an "expert system" that is easier to implement and has features based on best practices, not just customer requirements.  Hosted solutions and less technical and operational customization will be required in the future.
  • However, Sahana is trying to build solutions that don't yet exist in the market.
  • The ability to scale operations with hundreds of thousands of people and sites is a priority for Sahana to better enable real-time planning and management.
  • Haiti earthquake in 2010 was a "watershed moment" for Sahana where it was able to crowdsource and geo-locate almost all 150-160 hospitals in Haiti within 24 hours.  Only two couldn't be geo-located.  Sahana, in partnership with OpenStreetMap, used geo-rectification to confirm crowdsourced locations.

Check out the audio for the complete 15 minute interview!  (sorry for the initial background noise, but audio is still clear)

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