Sahana Agasti – Vesuvius

I thought of writing up a blog post related to my ongoing Google Summer of Code project, which is to re-implement the translation structure in Sahana Agasti’s Vesuvius release.

Sahana, as you may or may not know, is one of the most prominent HFOSS (Humanitarian FOSS) projects in the world, and is aimed primarily at disaster management. It was developed as a response to the December Tsunami in 2004 which devastated South Asian countries such as Sri Lanka, where Sahana originated. Sahana was brought forward at the time as an effort to co-ordinate the search for missing persons, manage shelters and the distribution of relief efforts.

Due to its robust structure and easy-to-deploy nature, Sahana has been deployed around the world as the primary disaster management system for most situations. The floods in Pakistan and India were mitigated with the aid of Sahana. The City of New York maintains its own installation of Sahana as a measure to manage disasters that could occur. Recently, Sahana was deployed in response to the tsunami in Japan as well.

Sahana is mainly comprised of 2 main projects: Eden and Agasti. Eden is written in Python as a desktop application that can help with co-ordinating the disaster relief effort from a centralized management point. Agasti is written in PHP and focuses on providing a more widespread relief effort through providing interconnection between a large number of disaster relief centers.

Agasti is in turn, made up of 2 parts: Mayon and Vesuvius. While Mayon focuses on statistical analysis and predictions, Vesuvius focuses primarily on finding missing persons. And it is Vesuvius that I’m doing my project on.

Vesuvius has a simple yet efficient structure which helps to set up a disaster event and co-ordinate efforts between a large number of triage centers over a large area very quickly. The most interesting thing about Vesuvius is that it can manage an advanced Access Control List that can include a large number of different types of users from Researchers to Administrators, each with their own set of privileges on-site.

The process of reporting a missing person on Vesuvius is pretty straightforward and self-explanatory. This design would help people with little experience in using Vesuvius.

My project focuses on making Vesuvius more easily translatable, so that it can be adapted for different disaster situations in different locales quickly and effectively. More on that later.