How blockchain could change the future of disaster response teams

How blockchain could change the future of disaster response teams
Written by
Ashleigh Lawrence

The death toll from the earthquake which struck on the Indonesian island of Lombok has surpassed 430, this figure likely to rise as searches continue. Nearly 390,000 people are displaced and living at camps. Helicopters have been dropping food and medical supplies to isolated communities who are in urgent need of assistance.

Time is the most precious commodity when a large catastrophic emergency occurs. The first 72 hours after a disaster are crucial for disaster response. First responders need to work quickly in order to maintain life, contain the spread of the emergency, relieve suffering and improve health, as well as support the morale of the population. Persons may need to be evacuated and placed into shelters, search and rescue teams deployed, damage assessed and initial infrastructure repairs may need to be started to avoid further damage.

We often do not hear the news about such events for many hours, even days, before we hear news of these events due to a variety of reasons such as varying time zones and our busy lifestyles. When lives are at stake, funds need to be mobilised quickly. There is no time to wait for fundraising campaigns which could take days and weeks. Not to mention the time that it may take to transfer funds internationally after raising the funds.

While developed countries may have access to government reserve funds to handle situations like this, developing countries are more likely to struggle in the case of an emergency situation. Those countries may not have reserve funds and charities which operate in that area may also not have funds easily mobilised. They may be solely relying on volunteers to save lives. In the case of the recent earthquakes in Indonesia, the economic cost has been estimated to be $342 million.

In a sudden emergency, OCHA will ideally release an inter-agency flash appeal within 24 to 72 hours. Likewise, CERF aims to provide initial funding within 72 hours of a crisis. Governments, donors and NGOs are all under immense pressure to make funding decisions within hours.

24 to 72 hours is a long time to wait for funding to arrive. At Little Phil, we are designing a blockchain solution that provides an opportunity for decentralised decision making which will mobilise funds in as little as two hours; much faster than currently possible.

Introducing the Little Phil Emergency Relief Fund

Every time someone makes a donation using the Little Phil platform, a portion of the (maximum) 6% fee that we charge on transactions will be allocated to a user’s account in the form of ‘reward tokens.’ These tokens can be gifted to an organisation of their choice, or left in their account in the case of an emergency disaster situation.

In the event of an emergency, Little Phil users can democratically vote to allow first responders access of up to a third of all reward tokens on the platform. This will be used as an advance payment until additional donations are obtained. Givers will be notified of the situation and have the choice to claim back their reward tokens or leave them as a gift for the non-profit organisation. The condition of the advance payment is that the non-profit organisation will pay the cost of any token return requests. Users will have the option to select emergency boundaries in advance (for example location, causes and amounts), or opt out of this service. This means that users can contribute to a critical situation even while they sleep, waking up to the news knowing they have already responded and may have saved lives. Givers will be notified of their donation and regularly updated on the disaster situation and how their funds are being used.

Voting rights are determined by the number of LPC (Little Phil Coin — our app’s native token) held and are capped at a maximum of 3 votes. This is to avoid monopolising the votes for the Emergency Relief Fund.

The quick mobilisation of funds could be the difference that saves more lives, and it is blockchain, smart-contracts and decentralised decision making that makes this possible.

This is just one of many functions we’re excited to share about our revolutionary platform. We are looking to transform the charitable giving industry, increase giver’s trust in charities at the same time as decreasing charities’ administration costs. To find out more and sign up for updates, check out our website.

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