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Collaboration for Disaster Resilience: InSTEDD in the Mekong Delta

Developing Markets, GeoLocation, Health, Mobile and The Web
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Diseases are spreading faster. To detect them we need to enable faster and accurate communication that can create life-saving responses. How do you do this without Western infrastructure in the jungles of South East Asia? InSTEDD has been building SMS and mapping applications while figuring out multilingual issues, human interaction design for 140 characters, ad-hoc team creation, and data integration of disconnected systems.

Early detection and early response of diseases, and effective response to disasters, requires strong human collaboration on a foundation of good information. People need to make decisions on information that is timely and accurate, comes from disparate places, and brings together the best of collaborative technologies and machine learning. How are we approaching it?

We will tell you about the programs we’ve set up in the Mekong Delta to help surveillance in the region, the experience of setting up an agile innovation lab, and share some learnings about how to bring technology to bear in an environment that tolerates little inefficiency. SMS-based applications, mapping, multilingual issues, human interaction design for 140 characters, data integration of disconnected systems.

Photo of Eric Rasmussen

Eric Rasmussen


Dr. Eric Rasmussen was elected in October 2007 as Chief Executive Officer of InSTEDD (Innovative Support to Emergencies, Diseases and Disasters), an international nonprofit organization founded by and dedicated to delivering innovative technological support to those who help the world stay safe.

Prior to accepting this position Dr. Rasmussen was both Chairman of the Department of Medicine within Naval Hospital Bremerton near Seattle, Washington, and an advisor in humanitarian informatics for the US Office of the Secretary of Defense. He holds academic positions at several institutions and has been a Principal Investigator for both the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and for the National Science Foundation. He is a Reviewer for the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and the American Journal of Public Health and sits on several advisory boards, including the Crisis Management Resources Board for the National Academy of Sciences. He has a number of publications and has been awarded several personal, unit, and theater military decorations, including a Presidential Legion of Merit.

Dr. Rasmussen spent seven years enlisted in nuclear submarines before leaving the Navy to receive his undergraduate and medical degrees from Stanford University. After graduate work in molecular biology at Los Alamos National Laboratory and teaching in Haiti, he completed a Residency in Internal Medicine and re-entered the Navy as Chief Resident in Medicine at the Navy Medical Center in Oakland, California. Subsequent Navy positions included three years as Fleet Surgeon for the US Navy’s Third Fleet.

Dr. Rasmussen, with an additional European Master’s Degree in Disaster Medicine, served on the Afghanistan humanitarian support planning staff within US Central Command Headquarters (CENTCOM) in 2002, and later as a physician to the Iraq Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) for the Iraq War in 2002-2003. As a member of the DART, he served within the International Humanitarian Operations Center in Kuwait and was later selected for the DARPA 2003 “Sustained Excellence in a Principal Investigator” award.

Further work as Director of the Strong Angel series of international humanitarian support demonstrations led to work in Afghanistan in 2004 and 2007, and in Indonesia as head of a Civil-Military Coordination Team for the tsunami response in Banda Aceh in early 2005. Later in 2005, he deployed with Joint Task Force Katrina in New Orleans, coordinating a small portion of the relief response after Hurricane Katrina.

In addition to his responsibilities at InSTEDD, he currently serves as Permanent Advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Forum on Water Disasters, and as a member of Kofi Annan’s Global Humanitarian Forum.

Eric has been married for more than 20 years to Demi, and has daughters Melissa and Faith. He divides his time between Palo Alto and a small ranch near Olympic National Park in western Washington.

Photo of Eduardo Jezierski

Eduardo Jezierski


Eduardo is the CTO of InSTEDD – working to create a world where
communities everywhere design and use technology to continuously
improve their health, safety and development. InSTEDD does it with
agile design in the field, local Innovation Labs, and an open-source
platform of mobile and cloud technologies that have improved lives
around the world, from Haiti to villages in South East Asia.

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