Sahana wins the 2006 social benefit award
Colombo, Sri Lanka and Cambridge, Massachussets---March 26, 2007---Sahana, an entirely volunteer effort to create technology for managing large-scale relief efforts, is the recipient of the 2006 Free Software Foundation Award for Projects of Social Benefit. Sahana was created, in the wake of the tsunami that devastated Southeast Asia in 2004, to compensate for the devastating consequences of a government attempt to manually manage the process of locating victims, distributing aid and coordinating volunteers.
The Free Software Award for Projects of Social Benefit is presented to a free software project that intentionally and significantly benefits society through collaboration to accomplish an important social task.
Speaking at the award ceremony, the Sahana project leader Chamindra de Silva said, "We are deeply honored to receive this award and were so excited we traveled half way around the world from Sri Lanka to attend the ceremony today. The Sahana project is all about a cohesive disaster response between multiple agencies and bringing them together to help victims. None of this would have been possible without the work of the wider free software community, and we would not have been able to bring benefit to the victims and the people who help the victims without that. It is a credit to the whole community."
Richard Stallman, President and Founder of the Free Software Foundation, in presenting the award said, "We were inspired to create this award when we heard of the tremendous good the Sahana project was able to achieve through the use of free software. With this award we give recognition to their efforts."
The founding team, made up of Sri Lankan technology workers, worked around the clock for three days to produce the first release of the software that was quickly adopted by their country's government. The software resolves common coordination problems that arise during a disaster and thus facilitates the search for missing people, aid and volunteer management, and victim tracking across refugee camps.
Sahana is built completely on donated funds and volunteer effort coordinated by Lanka Software Foundation. It has been officially deployed by the governments of Sri Lanka, Pakistan, the Philippies, and Indonesia. It was also part of the Strong Angel III, a test of US civil and military disaster response.
The members of the founding team that traveled from Colombo to Cambridge to accept the award were, Chamindra de Silva, project lead, as well as lead developers Pradeeper Dharmendra, Ravindra de Silva and Mifan Careem.
Every year, three finalists are nominated for the award by the free software community. This year's other two finalists were Project Gutenberg and the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC).
Previous winners of the free software award:
- 2005 Wikipedia
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