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Introduction

Geochat emerged from a simple concept - can I send an SMS message and see it on a map?

From there the concept has evolved, and geochat has become a project to build a collaboration platform for the lowest common denominator communication tools, considering as highest priorities the needs of workers of humantiarian aid, international health and disaster response.

The main drivers for the project are the feedback of the InSTEDD programs in South East Asia, excercises such as GoldenShadow, and a growing community of humanitarian and health workers who spend their days in technologically austere environments. We invite anyone from any line of work to use and contribute user experience, technical, and any other kind of feedback.

Overview

Geochat brings many concepts together to help people work in the far field or distributed across the world:

  • Location
  • Messaging via text messages, email, and extensible to other 'gateways'
  • Groups: Build open groups that anyone can see on the web, or create secure and closed groups for specific purposes and teams
  • Metadata: Adding tags, keywords and other metadata to messages
  • Time see conversation threads, replay people's tracks, etc

Features

  • Shared data via standard formats such as GeoRss and KML, http APIs
  • Support for multiple channels: Centralized SMS servers, Phones plugged in to your computer, email, twitter, and your own
  • A platform for various scenarios: create an open group to interact with anyone who wants to join in, or create anonimized, secure groups that protect identity and privacy
  • Taking the needs of deep field health and humanitarian workers as the highest priority, for example supporting satellite phones such as thuraya and their unique formats/standards
  • Extensible, over time and based on demand we will integrate with internet services. FireEagle, Yahoo APIs, etc. Also we are making it easy to add message processors so that you can write custom code to act on messages in any way you specify.

We want to hear from you! Community Resources

User Experience and Design

Design is critical for the whole spectrum of users: From large screens showing maps and streams of messages at an operations command center, to easily web-accessible UIs and all the way to users interacting 140 characters at a time. Join the yahoo group above to discuss.

Architecture

For more in detail see the Architecture page

Technical Details

Multiplatform - the architecture is made of 'service building blocks' speaking http and XML, so the pieces can be made with any platform and language convenient for each need. Currently the server is being built with .NET mono-compliant, and we will see what standalone clients will be built with depending on the requested features.

For command center scenarios we are getting a lot of requests for rich interactivity which may lead us to doing things in mono-compliant Silverlight, running on Moonlight. (we have tried adobe air for some scenarios and it's still quite heavyweight in comparison)

Directions

See the PrototypeAreas page for examples of things we are doing for next versions.

Contributors

Contributing Organizations

InSTEDD - Contributions will be based on the requirements observed in global health, community development and humanitarian aid.

Clarius Consulting - Core development of infrastructure, UI and graphics design.

Manas Technology Solutions - Core development of infrastructure, UI and graphics design.

Updated