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GDIN History

Summary

GDIN began in 1998 as an informal foundation fostered by the Office of Vice President Al Gore, the Bureau of International Organization Affairs (US Department of State) and disaster management experts from the United Nations, the EU, governments and the private sector.  

GDIN is is now an  independent charity chartered as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt corporation under US federal tax law.  It provides guidance on ways of developing disaster information and specialty projects. 

Contributions are tax deductable.

Anyone individual may become a member if you have an interest in sharing disaster information or finding new approaches to providing the right information, in the right format, to the right people, in time to make the right decisions.

Detailed History

The Global Disaster Information Network, GDIN, has grown from the shared frustrations of experts of many lands who either found it hard to find relevant, existing information in short order, or couldn't efficiently or cost effectively change existing information into more useful formats. In addition because less than 3% of the world has effective access to the Internet, disaster managers have also often been frustrated by poor telecommunications. Information is often not collected in standardized ways, inhibiting efficient sharing. In addition, as stressed by the Government of Mexico in GDIN1999, many disaster managers do not have the training or equipment needed to effectively use the latest technology

In order to address these concerns, members of the international emergency community met in Washington, DC in 1998 under the leadership of Dr. Leon Fuerth and the staff of the Office of Vice President Al Gore, at a meeting proposed in a Geneva workshop by the UK, the UN and the EC. GDIN was introduced and the consensus was to move forward. The community met again in 1999 in Mexico City, expanded the number of partners, and decided to develop a plan of action for the future.

While testing the concept of "information facilitation" GDIN also prepared for its next conference in Ankara, Turkey at GDIN2000, when the international community agreed upon project Terms of reference, otherwise known as the Ankara Declaration. GDIN continued to test the concept of "information facilitation", with a meeting in Hawaii in October 2000 to discuss advances in technology. This was followed in March 2001 by the annual conference in Canberra, Australia at GDIN2001, where a business plan was agreed upon, as well a drive to enhance the participation of the NGO, Industry and Local Disaster Management sectors, and a decision to begin fund raising as well as seek a legal personality for GDIN.

Subsequent conferences in Rome in 2002 and Washington DC in 2004 have furthered the aims of GDIN and provided valuable opportunities for members of the international GDIN community to network and to explore, challenge and develop issues relating to the aims of GDIN, concept further fostered in a joint conference with the Swiss government in DAVOS, Switzerland in 2006.  For a complete discussion of the goals of GDIN2002 and all of the other conferences, see Conferences.  The Swiss government has also offered to host a GDIN joint conference in 2008 in Davos again.

GDIN also figured in the World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR) hosted by the United Nations in 2005 because of its advice on tsunami early warning..

These efforts culminated in incorporating GDIN as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation under US Federal Tax law.   In addition, the Executive Director and Fund Director and others who before had simply been elected officials of a community became employees of GDIN, which is now run as a traditional non-profit.

With the management structure evolved, GDIN never lost its essential purpose, to foster a network of experts who can share ideas; but it also decided to foster services as well, the initial one being the Native American Project, a pilot project intended to provide disaster information services to the Navajo and Pueblo Indians initially then to the entire Native American community in North America.  That will link to a network of  networks in other parts of the world.