Sahana came into existence through the collaborative effort of IT professionals in Sri Lanka and around the world to provide relief to victims of the December 26, 2004 Tsunami in Indonesia. In October 2009, the governance and management of this community based, open source disaster management software program, through sponsorship from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), IBM and the National Science Foundation (NSF), was given to the Sahana Software Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Sahana has been successfully deployed in 14 disaster relief efforts as well as 14 pre-deployment preparedness and mitigation strategies around the world.

Sahana is primarily supported through the donation of funds, infrastructure and resources from organizations in industry (e.g., Google, IBM, Sri Lanka Telecom IDC), government (e.g., NSF, SIDA) and the non-profit sector (e.g., World Food Programme, Lanka Software Foundation). By establishing onsite teams that train IT professionals in the disaster area, Sahana has successful integrated industry workers, government agents, volunteers and resources. This effort not only alleviates suffering for victims, but streamlines interagency communication and improves the robustness of Sahana’s software.

Drawing heavily from the Apache Foundation’s community model of a meritocracy, the developer and user community is directed by the Sahana Software Foundation’s Board and Project Management Committees. This governance directs Sahana’s three primary internal projects: Sahana-Agasti (PHP-based, resource management), Sahana-Eden (Emergency Management Environment) and Sahana-Mobile (code base for mobile platforms)

In general, governments around the world have benefited or may benefit from the Sahana software with no financial investment. As the project has matured, it has gained the confidence and interest of government agencies for permanent deployment within their Emergency Management Operations. Most recently in the US, government has begun contributing to the development effort.

The Sahana project has called to the open source industry to help develop at cooperative business model, one which supports the viable commercialization of a product with a service industry to support and sustain the project while maintaining its humanitarian principles.

You can read the complete Sahana case study at the CENATIC oberservatory web site and is provided courtesy of the author, Deb Bryant.