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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

USC Sends Relief

Local doctors leave for Port-au-Prince, Haiti


Relief efforts continued in Los Angeles and at USC as a group of nine doctors and nurses departed for Port-au-Prince this morning.  The physicians from the Keck School of Medicine and nurses from Los Angeles County Health Services packed their supplies at the USC Health Sciences Campus before boarding a bus at 11 a.m. for LAX.

One of the nurses making the journey from L.A. to Miami, and then to Port-au-Prince is Claudel Thamas, a native of the city.  Although Thamas moved to Los Angeles in his teens, he knows that returning home will be difficult.

"[I'm] going to a people that, although they're poor, they're proud of themselves," Thamas said. "They're joyful. With even the little that they had.

"Now, I'm going home to a people that doesn't have any much left and sad and crying despair. I know it's going to be hard for me."

As the medical staff left for Haiti, a group of techies, USC students and walk-in volunteers met up at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism to do their part over the Internet.

The Crisis Camp brought together about forty volunteers of varying technical ability to collaborate on Web based projects.  They aimed to assist in Haiti's relief efforts by providing data, maps and technical assistance to NGOs, relief agencies and the public.

The Los Angeles based camp was one of five meetings across the world that worked directly with the United Nations and the Red Cross to provide and organize information.

"Part of this is an experiment," said Andrew Lih, director of new media at the Annenberg School. "This idea of coordinating five cities with volunteers of varying expertise with very little coordination is a big experiment. But the idea is, when the next disaster strikes we'll be that much more experienced in how to do this."

One of the immediate needs Crisis Camp sought to provide is mapping assistance to relief organizations.

"A lot of companies have very accurate map data but that information is copyrighted or it costs money," Lih said. "The idea is that the same way that Wikipedia allowed for lots of people to come together to create an encyclopedia for free, you have a lot of people come together to create map data for free."

Crisis Camp groups will continue to meet in Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, London, Washington D.C., and Denver. <a href="" target="blank">Click here for more information.</a>

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