To empower humans to create cutting-edge disaster solutions.
We are humanitarians, pure and simple. No matter how many lives we affect before, during and after disasters, it’s the survivors who are the real heroes of their communities. A survivor refuses to be a victim. Surviving means acting quickly and making life-saving choices. Often, survivors make great sacrifices. Some have immeasurable courage. And sometimes, they just get lucky. But no matter how someone lives through a disaster or crisis, we are inspired. Survivors motivate us.
With that motivation, we position ourselves as thought leaders who create disaster solutions that FIT. It is who we are and what we do. We are a non-profit organization designed specifically to practice and preach how to be a survivor. In doing so, we serve communities in crisis and rethink response. We also teach communities to think like us in case of a catastrophic event.
We love mankind and understand we are all vulnerable. When disasters strike, we think fast. We are all-in, FIT-minded collaborators who know that no two situations are the same. So, we listen to each community’s unique wants and needs and respond FITtingly. We are agile and efficient. We help communities help themselves to survive. This is what it means to be FIT-minded.
FIT has been responding to disasters since 2010. In its early days, FIT operated as a grassroots group working together for neighborhood disaster resilience. Now a non-profit, FIT volunteers from across the globe deploy to disasters and work on disaster risk reduction and resiliency efforts.
Past work in disasters includes hurricane Sandy in 2012, the 2013 Moore, OK tornadoes, the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, Philippines typhoon Haiyan in 2013, and the 2014 mudslide in Oso, WA. FIT has also worked with refugee children from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras in the USA as result of the unaccompanied migrant minor crisis.
FIT’s projects include collaboration with FEMA to redesign its Disaster Recovery Centers and development of the concept that later became FEMA’s Disaster Survivor Assistance Program.
FIT worked with the Drupal Conference to create housing and ride-sharing apps for stranded survivors of the 2013 Moore, OK tornadoes. After Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines in November, 2013, FIT worked with a team and partners to set up a heat map demonstrating internet connectivity.
FIT’s disaster response engagements included working in the Oso, WA with collaborators to develop computer-generated 3D interactive reconstructive models and 3D prints of the Oso mudslide. These outputs increased situational awareness of impassable terrain and helped keep first responders safe. In Oso and following the Pilger, NE twin tornadoes, FIT worked with Splunk4Good to develop and pilot the Donations Tracking Dashboard app for county officials and volunteer coordinators aiding the response. In support of the US and Mexico border crisis response, FIT worked with designers, artists, and thespians to develop a recreational activities curriculum designed to build community within refugee and disaster-displaced populations.
FIT’s work on disaster resilience and preparedness building included the Washington Community Innovation Summit with the Washington Governor’s Office, Futurecasting earthquakes with Intel Inc.’s Brian David Johnson, Autodesk, the California Lieutenant Governors Office, and the California Office of Emergency Services. FIT supported and helped facilitate the third Canada-U.S. Enhanced Resiliency Experiment (CAUSE III) aimed at demonstrating how new technologies can enable Canadian and U.S. emergency responders to exchange situational awareness information as an incident unfolds. FIT also ran two disaster innovator Bootcamps to train its next generation of volunteers for disaster activation and to prototype solutions to anticipated problems brought on by crises.
FIT conducted four deployments. Working virtually in Pakistan through a partnership with the Aga Khan Development Network, FIT created the Story Troubadours for Disaster Resilience workshop model. Using storytelling as a low-tech solution to enable communities plagued by frequent disasters, individuals can learn from each other, build stronger community connections, and prepare for future disasters. FIT also returned to St.PJ’s Children’s Home in Texas. FIT and a coalition of four organizations trained St. PJ staff through a new innovative methodology, designed to increase out-of-the-box creativity and flexibility and adapt to changing circumstances. The training is designed for personnel working with displaced, refugee, and migrant populations. After a virtual deployment immediately following the Nepal earthquake FIT deployed to the country in June. The virtual deployment focused on earthquake safety and youth empowerment curriculum training young women leaders from Women LEAD Nepal; the on-the-ground portion of the deployment focused on supporting Women LEAD leaders as they helped to fill the country-wide need for education support. Finally, FIT deployed to Lebanon to work on the Syrian refugee crisis using tools focused in the public health, entrepreneurship, and power grid space. This work continues in 2016.
FIT’s 2015 disaster risk reduction initiatives include our Miami Do Tank, which used games and design thinking to explore climate change impacts on sea level rise and hurricanes on Florida in 2050. FIT also ran a Disaster Innovation Do Tank: New York City Off The Grid during the Anti-Summit at the Tribeca Disaster Innovation Awards. Participants experienced a simulated electrical grid failure caused by solar flare and reacted by creating real-time solutions to help the city react. Other workshop highlights included a disaster simulation in the town of High River, Alberta, Canada; a drought design Jam with California Lieutenant Governor; creating and hosting the inaugural SXSW Robotics Petting Zoo; and running a nuclear bomb awareness exhibit at the San Francisco Fleet Week Humanitarian Village.
FIT has plans to expand its work with youth empowerment in disasters in Canada, US, Mexico and several other countries; increase its involvement with the Syrian refugee crisis not only in Lebanon but in Turkey, Syria and throughout Eastern Europe; grow its emergency infrastructure expansion work by scaling up work with industries, including healthcare, environmental, education, research and development for corporations, power grid systems and more. Stay tuned!