Since the lockdown/”PAUSE” order was issued here in so-called New York nearly a month ago, a group of friends and I have come together to discuss the current collapse/failure of the state and what we radicals might make in and of it. For our first session, we discussed technologist Vinay Gupta‘s concept of resilience maps (video below) and were lucky enough to be joined in discussion by Vinay Gupta himself. In one of the many fortuitious moments that have been sparked by the global pandemic, my friend tweeted at him and he just happened to be awake, quarantined at his home across the pond, and happy to walk us through the finer points of his SCIM threat modelling framework.
I quickly noted that this model could likely be spiffed up and fashioned as a response to (or furthering of — to be less of a shadethrower here) the current mostly-grassroots and largely apolitical disaster charity efforts that have been posing as “mutual aid”. By creating groups of actual mutuals and doing regular wellness checkins, maybe we could identify gaps and quickly help each other address them. Rather than wasting tons of food when what people might actually need is medicine or masks or bandages, maybe we could take the time to talk through needs and identify if there even were any for that particular day.
The basic ideas that I have boiled it down to are twofold.
- A daily checkin with 6 discreet questions:
– Is anyone in your home too cold?
– Is anyone in your home too hot?
– Is anyone in your home hungry?
– Is anyone in your home thirsty/needing water?
– Is anyone in your home injured?
– Is anyone in your home ill?
- A regular cadence to do more extensive mapping and addressing of threats beyond the domestic sphere (infrastructure challenges, transportation and logistics, security)
We discussed this all for several weeks, and came up with many questions and few answers to how or if we wanted to proceed. So I figured a logical next step would be just to “open source” the thinking via this blog and see whether it would gain any traction. I will also share a few more resources unearthed during our brainstorming.
- Are these the right questions?
- Is computerized technology an appropriate way to address this?
- Should this be an app or an SMS bot or something else?
- Where should the data live?
- How should the data be shared? (For my part, I liked the idea of anonymized time series data)
- Who should be able to join?
- Should it be a community of folks that know each other or just a geofenced open community?
- What about privacy?
- If privacy was coupled with anonymity, how do we meet needs? A centralized drop off point? A dating app-like mutual reveal and chat?
- Are frameworks developed for state purposes appropriate for autonomous mutual aid?
- How to design a questionnaire for needs assessments in humanitarian emergencies by Sandie Walton-Ellery
- For older people living alone, daily automated calls can mean safety (2017 – Washington Post)
- Assessment Instruments (University of Washington Behavioral Research and Therapy Clinics)
- Mutual Aid Disaster Relief – A People’s Framework for Disaster Response: Rewriting the Rules of Recovery after Climate Disasters
- Planning and Anarchy by Jasper Bernes
I’d love to continue this conversation with you either in the comments or via email. Drop me a line!