Publication: Crowdsourcing System Success for Emergency Relief Operations (Case Study: Haiti)

In 2012, I researched a crowdsourcing initiative for my dissertation at MSc ICT4D programme, University of Manchester.

Prasetyo, E. (2012) Crowdsourcing System Success for Emergency Relief Operations (Case Study: Haiti). Master thesis. IDPM, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.

Read the dissertation here.


In the aftermath January 2010 Haitian earthquake a dedicated crowdsourcing system – Mission 4636 – was established. A number of relief organisations and private companies collaborated to set up a short code “4636” allowing the Haitian community to report an emergency situation through SMS message. The Mission 4636 system was deployed within 48 hours after the earthquake. People inside Haiti began to SMS messages mainly in their own Creole language. Online volunteers translated, categorised, and geo-located these incoming messages almost in real-time. The results were RSS streams to relief organisations for further action.

The study adopts the DeLone and McLean (2003) information system success model to evaluate Mission 4636. Each of the six identified dimensions of success is examined: system quality, service quality, information quality, system use, user satisfaction and net benefits. I employed a qualitative method using a secondary data analysis. To support and validate the findings, unstructured interviews with respondents from Mission 4636 were carried out.

The study reveals some good practices and challenges attached to the implementation of a crowdsourcing system for disaster relief. It highlights the importance of using existing platforms for disaster relief, instead of setting up new ones. Even if the number of volunteers involved in Mission 4636 largely exceeded the number of paid workers, the latter proved to be invaluable for the success of the initiative. The Mission 4636 system was used by a number of different organisations, both for immediate assistance on the ground as for managing the relief efforts, even if the system initially was not always set up for that. The benefits of the project proved to be broader then just the saving of lives after the disaster.