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Chamindra de Silva to speak at @ Trinity College, Hartford CT


What: Chamindra de Silva, the director of the Sahana project – an award-winning global disaster management tool that grew out of the 2004 Asian tsunami disaster -- will deliver a lecture on using open source software in the management of disasters.

When: Thursday, December 11 at 7:30 p.m.

Where: Rittenberg Lounge in Mather Hall on the Trinity campus.

Category: Meetings and Events
Posted by: Trishan

What: Chamindra de Silva, the director of the Sahana project – an award-winning global disaster management tool that grew out of the 2004 Asian tsunami disaster -- will deliver a lecture on using open source software in the management of disasters.

When: Thursday, December 11 at 7:30 p.m.

Where: Rittenberg Lounge in Mather Hall on the Trinity campus.

Background: Disasters are, by definition, devastating events that overwhelm the affected societies’ capacity to respond expeditiously and to mitigate the consequences. In the chaos that often ensues, new alliances, groups, collaboration and trust need to be developed quickly between government organizations, foreign-aid groups and volunteers. Efforts must be made to effectively muster their energy into a unified response.

Information technology can play a valuable role in enabling responders to act efficiently and effectively. In particular, Open Source Software has been found to be a good fit for the dynamic “bazaar-like” environment that occurs in the wake of a catastrophic event.

De Silva is the director of the Sahana project, a global disaster management tool that emanated from the 2004 Asian tsunami. Initially developed to help manage the scale of the disaster, Sahana was deployed by the Sri Lankan government. Sahana is a suite of web-based applications that addresses different problems with regard to the information required for post-disaster management of problems such as locating missing people, coordinating aid groups, and managing resources.

The project employs the use of Free and Open Source Software that makes the system transparent and encourages worldwide volunteer and community involvement. Given its immense potential, Sahana has grown to be a globally recognized project and has been deployed to manage the earthquake disaster in Northern Pakistan in 2005; the Guinsaugon landslide in The Philippines in 2006; the earthquake in Yogjakarta, Indonesia in 2006; and the Shicuan Earthquake in China in 2008.

DeSilva was the acting executive director of the Open Source R&D Foundation, Lanka Software Foundation. His interest lies in developing Open Source software to provide a transparent, cost-effective and easily adaptable solution for managing large-scale disasters.
De Silva is also the founding secretary of the IEEE computer society chapter in Sri Lanka and has contributed to the Information and Communication Technology Agency in that country. He has 10 years of experience in the information technology industry.

Since its inception, the Sahana project has received wide recognition and a number of awards, including the Free Software Award for Social Benefit (February 2007); Sourceforge Project of the Month (June 2006); the Software 2006: Good Samaritan Award (April 2006); and the Network World’s Top 10 Open Source Companies to Watch (August 2006). De Silva graduated from Magdalen College, Oxford University, where he earned a degree in engineering and computer science. He has co-authored several publications on Sahana and the concept of Humanitarian-FOSS in IEEE, CACM, and BCS journals and magazines.

The de Silva lecture is co-sponsored by the Connecticut-Trinity-Wesleyan Computer Science Consortium Distinguished Lecture Series and the Humanitarian FOSS Project (www.hfss.org). The Humanitarian FOSS Project is a collaborative, community-building project that was started by a group of computing faculty and free software proponents at Trinity, Wesleyan University and Connecticut College.

Its goal is to build a community of academic computing departments, information technology corporations, and local and global humanitarian and community organizations dedicated to using Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) to benefit humanity. The project was inspired in part by the Sahana FOSS Disaster Management System. Students have built a Volunteer Management module that is now part of the Sahana system.