Tom, software developer, about his contribution on Humanity 1

Tom (Software-Entwickler für Registrierungsprogramm an Bord) lächelnd vor dem blau-gelben Rettungsschiff Humanity 1.
Wanda Proft

Tom is a software developer and programmed the software for the registration of survivors and for the documentation of needs and treatments in our onboard clinic on Humanity 1. Both programs help us keep track of data and store important information in a traceable way.

He was recently in Burriana, where for the last few months Humanity 1 was being prepared for the upcoming missions. We caught up with him to learn more about the applications he has developed and his motivation to do so. Have a read!

Tom, thank you very much for taking the time for this interview. Most important question: how did you get the idea to use your software development skills for non-governmental maritime rescue?

In recent years, my experience was that many people in our society are more and more oriented towards their own interests and benefits. The responsibility for others is increasingly disregarded. At the same time, our behaviour in terms of politics, economics and, of course, nature has an enormous impact on the lives of other people. In the global south, this leads to conditions that sometimes threaten people’s existence, which they also try to escape by fleeing across the dangerous Mediterranean route.

I want to face up to my responsibility and not simply stand by while others are deprived of the basics of existence. One of the ways I can do that is by using my experience in software development.

It gives me the opportunity to support others with their efforts to help people in need and provide them with tools that make their work easier. This then leaves more time for them to support survivors.

Can you briefly introduce and explain the programs and how the process of developing was created?

The programs that I have been able to provide so far are essentially concerned with the registration of survivors. For the time being, this does not involve personal data. Rather, information is recorded that is required, among other things, for communication with authorities, but also on board Humanity 1. This includes, for example, the exact number of people rescued, broken down by men, women, pregnant women or (unaccompanied) minors.

The second program also accesses this information. It is used to document medical treatments in the onboard clinic and, for example, to create reports on evacuations which are medically necessary.

As a developer of individual software, I always have to talk to the users to develop an understanding of: what is actually needed? In what environment will the software be used?

Your teams did an excellent job of communicating that. Based on these needs, we were able to develop structures and functions that reduce the time spent on formalities and – as I said before – leave more time for the people you are helping.

You went to the shipyard to work on finalising the programs. What was it like for you to be on board Humanity 1? Is there anything you would like to share?

First and foremost, I was incredibly impressed by the people aboard Humanity 1, who are extremely dedicated to creating an environment in which survivors can feel comfortable. It’s not just the obvious things like a floor to protect them from the waves or a roof to keep out sun and rain. It is also, for example, the lovely paintings in the showers and the shelter for women and children that give a sense of being welcome.

Support from civil society, such as your expertise, is important and valuable. So, to conclude, we want to know from you: what does humanity mean to you and what role does this meaning play in your commitment to non-governmental search and rescue?

For me, humanity means seeing others as humans and treating them as such. NGO search and rescue puts this principle into practice, differently from EU policy, for example. By supporting you, I simply feel more human myself.

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