WHO IS EVERT BOPP?
” Sometimes all you have to do to help is to get there and do a good job, then people would see that what you did works, and they will come around”
Evert Bopp is a self-described “low-flying Dutchman” who has made Ireland his home. After 15 years in commerce- and revenue-driven fields in the tech industry, Evert founded Disaster Tech Lab in 2010 to provide rapid response communication networks for use in disaster relief and humanitarian aid work globally by responding organizations, as well as affected communities.
You can connect with Evert here:
IN TOR 029 YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT:
- Evert, a man who saw he could help everyone in disaster relief situations by restoring, or in some cases, providing connectivity to locals, responders and
- Who would object to free Wi-fi? Disaster Tech Lab (DTL)’s few instances of friction, particularly from governments; and general logistic challenges of transporting network hardware.
- The success and the risks of depending almost exclusively on a volunteer network, and why quality control of contributions can be even more important when relationships are not based on money.
- DTL’s plans to expand its scope beyond bridging technological network, including fast human capacity deployment and proactive services for organizations working on the ground.
OUR CONVERSATION INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:
- Disaster Tech Labs (DTL) http://disastertechlab.org/
- Red Cross
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- ‘04 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami
- Disaster relief
- Connectivity, general and Internet
- Volunteer networks
- Quality control
- Social Media
- Software development
- Networking (IT)
- Power generation
- Oklahoma City, OK
- South East Asia
- San Antonio, TX
- New York
EPISODE CRIB NOTES
Disaster Tech Lab (DTL)
Ensure areas hit by disasters have internet access.
They accomplish this in several ways.
A blizzard. They assessed the area, brought a set of small satellite dishes.
Sometimes it has to do with bridging existing infrastructure, sometimes bringing a complete temporary solution.
2004 South East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami, millions homeless on Christmas
Evert stood up, wanted to help sort through the chaos, bring the power of communication. People were not sure of the whereabouts of their family and friends.
Reports were coming in. Wi-fi was not widespread. He reached out, people with and without technical backgrounds responded with interest as to what could be done.
In 2010, DTL starts. Incorporated with him and wife, and a pool of volunteers.
As a charity, they don’t pay their staff. “We cannot make a lot of demands.“
Hiring allows more control over output.
Quality has been good. Outcomes kind of find their own way, not necessarily intended by DTL.
Evert is very invested, spends a lot of time on engagement, but also selection. “Just because you are a volunteer does not mean your contributions will be accepted.” He makes sure the person is committed, no matter how much of an expert.
Story of a rockstar
’14 Oklahoma tornado. Reaching out for volunteers through social media. A man from Oklahoma city, highly skilled, but a people person. Helped setting services on a synagogue, a logistic genius, front end and back end. “And he’s never asked for anything in return.“
(Plug: DTL’s Gofundme Campaign https://www.gofundme.com/LesbosRefugees)
Private citizen and corporate donations, and a list of donors they contact periodically.
“Continuity is the main challenge.“
People wonder about offering services with a fee. “It’s often thought of. All we want is to serve everyone the best way possible. We could not charge distressed communities in the developing world.“
Looking forward to hiring professional fundraisers.
’10 Started. “I’ll do this for 10 months.“
Philippines. Multiple missions in several areas, even training.
“We don’t want to come and burden the infrastructures. If that means bringing staff, even doctors, we will do it.“
They also help with developing reports on technical situations, they can provide their discoveries with Red Cross and other large organizations.
He started through his personal LinkedIn and Facebook profiles. Soon enough realized he needed a separate DTL presence.
DTL uses Nimble for social media management and CRM.
WordPress, now Nationbuilder for fundraising.
Working on the concept, then execute. But Evert has kept working on the concept ever since.
Partners and networks
Equipment partners in Ireland, Philippines, San Antonio. It’s easier to find it in Europe or the U.S.
It was easier to procure equipment in Haiti than the Philippines.
In the U.S., three people can mobilize to ground zero and assess the situation for upcoming deployment. More efficient, unlike those other places.
When is it time to activate, then clean up?
“We’re very proactive.” Their volunteers can come quickly depending on the place. Also sometimes they are invited to go and do assessments.
’12 NY, Sandy. Engineers moved quickly, worked with FEMA.
A volunteer meteorologist is now on board.
“It’s easy to see when the job is done. When we guarantee connectivity is back.” They can donate equipment, solar panels and more.
Access is priority. Micromanagement is unfeasible.
Once equipment is set up, two networks are created. A secure one, protected, slightly faster. And another, open, a bit slower.
Disaster relief has evolved, volunteering is more useful, governments are more open to outside help, less need to control. “Everything is more open.“
Promotion, including legitimacy
If there are no pre-existing relations on the ground, they reach the key people: local town clerks, emergency commanders, fire departments.
FEMA knows who they are. For other cases they have a brochure.
Sometimes they just go and set up the Wi-Fi. Nobody protests.
Oklahoma. Not a priority from agencies. But there were families living in trailers. They come, children get online for the first time. They create Facebook accounts, but they also look for all kinds of information they are curious about.
Electricity was hard to come by, a man donates a diesel generator. After relief is done, the man gives it to a hospital lift from the ground by one man, which has no power. “It has saved lives ever since.“
“Persist, persist, persist. If you think you’re doing the right thing, then you’re helping people“
Evert took a 70% pay cut, “but a 5000% increase in job satisfaction.“
Network. “Reach out to aid organizations, work with them.“
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