In the aftermath of the January earthquake in Haiti, I wrote about the importance of getting the nation's cell phone service up and running again. Télécoms Sans Frontières, or TSF, went in very quickly to try to reestablish cell and data connectivity. And cell phones, it turned out, proved useful in both locating victims and directing aid to the right places. Now, as Haiti continues to recover, Statistics Without Borders (SWB), a group of volunteers affiliated with the American Statistical Association, hopes to use a cell phone survey in Haiti to gain a better understanding of the ongoing economic impact of the quake.The survey, according to SWB, has two main objectives: "(1) Estimate the employment status of the Haitian population and the change in that status; and (2) estimate aspects of the current housing situation (living with relatives, other relatives living with respondent)."
And how will it be conducted? By randomly dialing a sample of active Haitian cell phone numbers. They are hoping for a sample size of 1,000 respondents.
SWB's work is being funded to the tune of $10,000 by Scimetrika, a North Carolina-based health consultancy company headed by Dr. Jean Orelien, who is himself Haitian. Orelien and a team of SWB volunteers has already visited the country to do some preliminary work on the survey.
However, and here is where it gets interesting, the rising costs of working in Haiti have meant that, without extra funding, SWB will need to cut the sample size. "We fear that this decision will limit our ability to show the true potential of the method and allow this opportunity to go to waste," the group says.
So, they've listed the project on a website called IndieGoGo, where you yourself can donate to the effort.
Think of it as "crowdfunding."
The group is hoping raise an additional $5,000 through the site."If we show that this method can provide reliable information, it can be easily repeated and contribute significantly to future relief efforts in Haiti and other parts of the world," SWB notes on its IndieGoGo page.
(Photo courtesy of SWB's page on IndieGoGo)