Why was Field Ready founded?
The purpose of the organization is to provide disaster relief and meet humanitarian needs by transforming logistical supply chains. We do this through technology and engaging people in new ways. In practical terms, this means we'll send volunteers with technical knowledge to areas of need who then use a range of manufacturing technologies to meet those needs on the ground. In this way, supply chains are vastly improved and in some cases virtually eliminated. A key element of our approach also involves training others and exposing people to localized problem-solving, human-centered design and "making" in ways that they can immediately benefit from. More about how we work is found here.
What is your organizational history and structure?
Field Ready was conceived as a group of organizations at Singularity University located in Mountain View, California, by Eric James and Nick Haan in August 2012. Incorporated in late 2013, Field Ready in the US and received its 501c3 status in 2014. Other legal entities have been formed since then, each with a separate board of directors. Staff, volunteers and supporters have been added as we've become operationally capable and scaled our approach.
What activities do you undertake and who does the design?
To help save lives, reduce suffering and build resilience, our approach relies on activities that are tailored to specific contexts. Putting in place the capability to solve problems locally is what we're all about.
In the assessment phase, we listen, learn and understand affected people, partners, and other stakeholders. In some cases, this can be done in as little as a day, while in other cases we spend long periods to get at the roots of issues we find.
In the design phase, our expert team works directly with people on the ground to craft workable solutions to real problems people face. This can involve participatory techniques and human-centered design to ideate and iterate different prototypes. Our experiences have ranged from Iraqi children designing items to include in soap to encourage proper hygiene to local engineers in South Sudan finding their own solutions to well-digging problems.
In the making phase, we actually manufacture practical items locally. This may be one-off replacement parts for impossible-to-find items (e.g., that which puts expensive medical items back in operation), specialty items in the dozens, or mass-produced items to reach tens of thousands of people.
In the share phase, we distribute the items made but, more importantly, also pass on the skills and knowledge. This involves formal and informal training, capacity building and technical assistance. Field Ready has developed curricula especially suited for the contexts in which work. Our ultimate goal is to change the way aid is done for the better and, in our lead phase, we make it a point to openly share our expertise and experience with others worldwide.
How are programming sites and country locations chosen?
We consider where we work very carefully. Unfortunately, we cannot be everywhere and the realities of logistics and security are basic essentials. We have therefore developed criteria that weigh need, capacity, local talent, opportunities for partnership and support. These criteria are discussed further in our Technical Brief #1 available on this website here.
What technology do you use and why?
We employ a range of technologies and relevant software to get extraordinary results in local manufacturing. The choice depends on the needs we find in the situations we encounter. In many cases, we use "appropriate technology" which works from the end-users' perspective, particularly those that don't have many resources. This means finding or designing solutions that are usually small-scale, labor-intensive, easily replicated and repaired with local parts, decentralized and easy on the environment. The scale here refers to the size of the manufacturing sites, not the output or impact (our activities have the ability to reach people at a very large scale).
We also work with "exponential technology" including where it is applied to additive manufacturing that has astounding potential. Additive manufacturing - including printers, CNC routers, laser cutters and different types of molding machines - has a range of applications. These methods are especially important to our approach given their flexibility and potential as technology matures.
Ultimately, Field Ready's approach is informed not just by what technology is available today but what is possible in the years to come. At the same time, whatever the technology, people will remain at the center of our approach with specific technologies remaining tools in addressing specific problems and challenges.
What do you do about getting access to remote/difficult areas and what about power?
Field Ready is made up of experienced relief workers who have spent their careers starting humanitarian assistance projects in some of the most difficult places on earth. They have the knowledge, experience and systems in place for starting activities with very little external support. Every relief organization requires power and this is often provided by electrical mains and/or generators. Field Ready is actively promoting ways to use alternatives to these traditional means.
How quickly can you deploy after a disaster happens and for how long?
Field Ready maintains the ability to deploy experienced staff in as little as 72 hours following a rapid-onset disaster. We maintain an emergency roster of trained, passionate relief workers to do so. Our approach is equally applied in situations with low levels of development (e.g. poor and/or remote areas especially in developing countries) and situations of protracted displacement such as long-term refugee settlements. More about this approach is detailed throughout this website (look for more detailed documents here and here).
Don’t you still need a supply chain?
Every relief and assistance project requires logistics. Traditional logistical chains are expensive and time-consuming. A whole host of procedures, staff and other resources are needed to meet the most basic logistical needs. With Field Ready, one simple order results in cost-efficient and timely delivery of the exact items needed. In some cases, it's possible to cut procurement costs by as much as 50% or even more! With our approach, corrections and replacement orders are just as proficient.
What about local markets?
Field Ready's approach is specifically designed to work in areas where local markets have yet to meet the needs found. Where conditions are improved, Field Ready focuses on items that aren't readily available on the local market and training others in areas such as design and manufacturing.
How do you balance issues such as gender and protection?
Field Ready actively promotes gender rights and equality in its work. We follow humanitarian principles, as spelled out in the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief and other documents, and key elements of International Humanitarian Law, including the on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), throughout our approach to programming and in our relations with our staff and the people we assist. Each person associated with Field Ready must agree to an extensive set of policies, which are available here.
What if an object used is protected intellectual property?
In all cases, Field Ready provides its products and services for free in keeping with the aims and mandate of our organization. Design files we create will be made open source. We encourage others to use them to aid others. At the same time, Field Ready naturally respects the law and the efforts of others. Depending on the circumstance, we will provide credit, reference and/or citation for others' work when necessary.
What environmental impact does your approach have?
This issue is important to us. In many instances, our activities will have a beneficial impact on targeted beneficiaries by providing items such as hygienic medical disposables. In situations of land pollution, often left by certain disasters and general under-development, our recycling activities help clear away debris in public areas.
What about sustainability?
By the nature of relief programming, some of the activities undertaken by Field Ready in emergency situations purposely might not be sustainable. In more stable situations, Field Ready actively promotes sustainability by training and capacity-building of local people and through recycling efforts. In terms of the use of plastic filament, Field Ready follows the guidelines set forth by the Ethical Filament Foundation.
How can I support Field Ready?
There is a range of ways to support Field Ready. The best way for an individual to support us is to make a donation through the Donation button at the top of our website. If you have technical skills and experience, or represent a potential partner organization, we would like to hear from you via our Contact page. At this time, however, we do not have any employment vacancies available.
More information is also available through our social media:
@FldRdy on Twitter
@field_ready on Instagram