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Digital volunteerism: Bringing revolution

A large number of young Nepalis live in other countries. Digital volunteerism can be a significant way to retain their expertise in different aspects of the country’s development

We are now in the era of digital age.Thanks to innovation and technology the growth of digitalization is faster than ever.

Statista, the leading statistics company on the internet, has published that the number of mobile users in the year 2015 was 4.43 billion and it predicts that the ratio will be 4.93 billion in the year 2018.

In the context of Nepal, the latest Management Information System (MIS) report of Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) has published that the mobile service users rate have crossed 105.15 per cent of the population.

This is a huge leapfrog for Nepal.

The spontaneous engagement of Nepalis on volunteering activities after the devastating earthquake on April 25, 2015 shows how much they are embedded with the essence of volunteerism to help those in need.

If we also turn back to the culture of east, then we can perceive lots of voluntary activities continued from generations ago.

The way of volunteerism in our current practice is making donations, providing relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts, and it indeed was a need of the time and this generation seems to be upgrading towards digital volunteerism to help fellow citizen in need.

The volunteers who have technical skills and can solve the societal problems with the use of digital tools and techniques are considered to be digital volunteers. The practice of digital volunteerism began by providing volunteers electronic versions of work in the public domain during the 1970s from the project Gutenberg.

Later in the year 2000, United Nations Volunteers (UNV) launched a web-based digital volunteering platform targeting non-government organizations, and government agencies to become online volunteers in various projects.

In the context of the recent Nepal earthquakes, labs have given a great lesson for the need of digital volunteerism in Nepal. The basic goal of the crisis map was to match the needs of quake affected people by connecting the relief efforts being conducted by various agencies during the catastrophe.

Reports show that in the recent time, there has been excessive use of tech tools for the preparedness and post disaster response of disasters and emergency events.

The use of mobile technology in recent time has acted as the fastest and reliable means of communication to get timely updates. Use of social media has been another big platform to obtain necessary information.

There is an initiative called Tweak the Tweet (TtT) – an idea for utilizing the twitter platform for crowd sourcing information during disasters and emergency events.

With the use of the hashtag, the user can collect necessary information and take action promptly.

Science and technology today has contributed tremendously towards the improvement in strategic interventions by introducing different ways of early warning systems and with the introduction of it, things are in control and the number of human death has decreased notably.

This practice has not been noticeable in the context of Nepal, as it has recently purposed an Early Warning System (EWS) framework to take control of disasters.

To get the most of such system, the local people should know how to use such technology and its significance. Thus, a group of trained digital volunteers will have to be there to operate and let others know the use and significance of it at the local level.

Nepal brought out its first IT policy in 2000 then in 2003 a High Level Commission for IT (HLCIT) has been formed and in 2007 AD, the Right to Information Act has been made and in 2010 an Information Technology Policy was brought up.

Promoting IT professionals with conducive environment and promoting the concept of digital volunteerism can bring significant changes in a short time.

A large number of young Nepalis live in other countries. Digital volunteerism can be a significant way to retain their expertise in different aspects of the country’s development. Branding different places of Nepal and promoting it globally as a tourism destination can play a significant role to promote tourism.

Mapping different places of the country through the online platform like Open Street Map (OSM) can be another significant way of engagement of nation development work.

In recent time, raising fund from the crowd sourcing platform is taken as a meaningful way of uniting together to help any person in need. Social, environmental and political campaign can be initiated from the social platforms through different activities like signing petitions and trending in twitter, Facebook and other social medias.

Initiatives like, Telemedicine Service through the use of telecommunication and information technology can provide clinical health care from a distance.

Digital volunteerism is not a new platform as various organizations around the world are doing significant works to promote its essence. Humanity Road that delivers disaster preparedness and response information to the global mobile public before, during and after a disaster is a digital volunteer promoting platform.

Standby Task Force (SBTF) organizes digital volunteers into a flexible, trained and prepared network ready to be deployed in crisis.

The time has come when the humans and computers should work together to bring digital revolution through digital volunteerism.