Monday, December 19, 2005

Post-Katrina community network reweaving

Hurricane Katrina so obliterated New Orleans that it's no exaggeration to say the very future of the city remains in doubt. Thankfully, the rebuilding effort got a huge boost today when the White House announced funding an addition $1.5 billion in hurricane protection. (See the editorial "A down payment on New Orleans" in today's NT Times.)

Cleaning and rebuilding New Orleans physical infrastructure is just part of the recovery effort. Equally huge is the challenge of re-uniting and re-integrating the communities whose neighborhoods were demolished by Katrina.

A team that includes the minister of a 9th Ward church that was destroyed has asked me how social network analyis and other technologies might help them reach out to their far-flung former congregation. Here is the plan we sketched out to help them begin to reconnect with each other. We would:
  • Convene and support a team of local high-schoolers to lead this project
  • Consolidate in one list the names and contact information of the 50 or so people already re-connected to the church, as well as a working list of the estimated 100-200 missing.
  • Prepare a phone script that the church youth can use to collectively call congregants with known phone numbers, get their updated coordinates, and learn about any other connections congregants may have renewed with each other.
Church youth will then update us with the results of their phone calls, so that we can update the master list for their next round of calls. Social network information collected during the phone calls (who has renewed contact with whom) will help us identify congregants who can help lead this community reweaving as the process continues.

Is anyone else out there doing something similar? I think this is a great service my network-savvy readers can provide to meet a huge need. I would love to hear from anyone with ideas for improving this game plan to help the people of New Orleans reconnect with each other.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 License and is copyrighted (c) 2005 by Connective Associates except where otherwise noted.

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