Knowledge sharing during the COVID-19 response
Updated: May 11
Dealing with border closures, lockdowns or orders to shelter-in-place or stay at home have been hard for everyone while COVID-19 threatens us globally and ravages our supply chain. But Middle East lockdowns have been particularly difficult for Field Ready team members and local partners who can’t access local makerspaces to share designs and help communities solve some of their supply issues.
“We have been sharing these designs as open-source with many people so they can address problems right in their community,” said Aziz Wadi, a Field Ready technical specialist in Jordan. “The FabLabs are critical to these efforts.”
FabLabs and makers spaces aren’t considered essential or critical infrastructure under Jordanian and Iraqi lockdowns, meaning they are closed along with almost all other businesses and community spaces.
An Iraqi makerspace not long ago.
This means that communities there don’t have access to otherwise widely shared designs or places to manufacture personal protection equipment – face masks, face shields, protective garments – and medical devices that are in short supply everywhere. Instead of being able to 3D-print face shields for local medical staff and first responders, these sites sit silent and unused.
“In a time like this, when things are rapidly evolving, FabLabs and maker spaces could be used to make (supplies) that are locally appropriate for those locations,” said Susan Long, Field Ready’s Middle East regional lead.
“These spaces can’t do everything, but they are a linchpin that can leverage others in the area,“ she said. “When we need production on a greater scale, these spaces allow us to help that, whether that’s community members or working with local manufacturers to make the items needed. Right now, we can’t do that.”
Design and knowlege sharing
While physical movement is limited, this hasn't stopped team members from focusing on devising ways to create useful items.
“We’re still sharing knowledge and collecting feedback with people while they are in their homes,” he said. “We will continue doing that.”
This knowledge sharing is happening on several platforms, including in the internal database found on AirTable.com, the designs available on www.humanitarianmaking.org and through groups such as Facebook's Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies.