Today I watched two hours of Haiti news coverage. It breaks my heart to see the devastation in the area. I’m also a bit concerned that government bureaucracy could slow down crucial relief efforts.
If you check whitehouse.gov, we can give money and pay attention to what’s happening. But what if I have a big company and I can actually implement solutions much faster than a government organization can? Should I want to passively observe the devastation?
What if Obama used his massive power with the media to crowd source relief? I would imagine the first line of order would be to get communication in the area and relief workers to give out food and water. One of the telcos could step forth and various water and food companies could come forward. UPS actually does logistical work and could help coordinate some of the shipping to a Haiti port.
Doctors and pharmaceutical companies could offer their services. Airlines could fly them there.
After this, there would need to be security to keep the peace as well as efforts to offer shelter. I’m not sure the military could get crowd sourced, but Architecture for Humanity allows architects to contribute ideas for sustainable housing in developing nations. Obama could use the winning designs and then the fledgling building supply companies could offer up housing.
Why would these companies offer these services for nothing or next to nothing? The same reason why developers contribute to open source: for fulfillment and credibility.
1.) If Obama comes out and says, “We could count on American Airlines to deliver our thought leadership teams to Haiti on time,” it’s worth more than any add they could put on TV. If he says “Southwestern Bell really dropped the ball with our communication strategy”, the opposite rules apply. Obama and his staff can hold parts of the puzzle accountable, which keeps them honest regardless of payment.
2.) One backlink/dedicated page from the biggest crowdsourced project to date (Haiti relief from whitehouse.gov) is worth more than just about any backlink an SEO expert could buy you. You’d also want to consider all of the residual backlinks you’d get from people discussing specific parts of the project.
3.) It’s the right thing to do and giving product away is often cheaper than advertising.
This would obviously require “architects” familiar with this type of work to coordinate. But given how long government contracts can take to get through and the bureaucracy and expense involved, isn’t it the right thing to do? Shouldn’t that be what “Yes We Can” means?