Response stories are a feature of the SIMS Portal designed to help the network communicate about activations at a high-level by reflecting on our experience of providing support to an operation. Before the Portal, we often struggled to demystify how SIMS operates and what our services actually look like. Stories help package our collective work into blog-like posts that summarize what we did while providing insight into how we worked with the operation to overcome certain challenges. As we continue to learn as a group, these stories also neatly package our best practices and lessons learned for other teams to potentially benefit from, both inside of and external to the Movement.
The responsibility of creating response stories rests with the SIMS Remote Coordinators (“SIMS Co”) assigned to the emergency. All SIMS Co’s should be continually saving their operational reviews to the SIMS Portal, which will help keep track of elements for the learning section of the story.
While the final round SIMS Co will ultimately post the story, all previous SIMS Co’s should be supporting the process during their remote deployments by taking notes on any areas that would be relevant. All SIMS Co’s should collectively approve the final draft, with any issues that they can’t come to an agreement on being escalated to the SIMS governance committee.
Areas of Focus
No two responses are ever the same, so creating a single template for all stories isn’t feasible. However, there are certain topics that are good to keep in mind as you and the other SIMS Co’s start drafting the story.
The first round SIMS Co should keep notes about the activation process—how was SIMS activated, what did the operation identify as a gap that led to the activation, what internal challenges did we face, etc. Cover whether the SIMS Co had a deployed IM Coordinator (“IM Co”) or whether they dealt directly with an IM focal point from the national society. You can include links to members’ profiles when referencing them.
Remote Support Overview
Discuss the sorts of requests we got from the field, organized by support profile (e.g. “Geospatial”, “Information Design”, “Data Collection & Survey Design”, etc.). For each section, think about the themes you saw. For example, if the operation was requesting a variety of maps in the first week of the response, reflect on the questions that these maps were trying to answer and ways we could improve the process in the future.
If the SIMS Co’s have been logging operational reviews throughout the activation, the learning section can simply be a copy/paste from those. Before sharing these learnings, though, think about what elements might include sensitive information that isn’t appropriate for external audiences. We want to show audiences that we are continuously improving our processes, not simply highlight the things that didn’t work.
The response story feature accepts markdown formatted text rather than rich text in order to simplify the feature and make the text more interoperable. Some advanced markdown features are not supported, such as footnotes and callout boxes, but simpler features like links, headers, and images are.
- Top Level Headings: To create a section header, use two hash symbols followed by a space on a single line. For example:
## My Header.
- Nested Headings: If you wish to have subheadings nested under those top level headings, use three hash symbols followed by a space on a single line. For example:
### My Second Level Heading
- Links: Links are formatted in markdown two brackets for the text followed by two parentheses for the URL, with no spaces between the closing bracket and opening parenthesis. For example:
[Visit the SIMS Portal](rcrcsims.org)
- Images: To embed an image, you first need to host it somewhere or find an existing image already being hosted. If you choose to use the latter option, try to avoid using an image whose host may unexpectedly take down or move. Use the same syntax as links, but prepend an exclamation mark to the opening bracket. For example:
You can view past response stories on the SIMS Portal, but if you’re looking for a document to help get you started, here’s a simple example:
Brief overview of the emergency. For example, the date of the event, the number of people affected, how the IFRC and national society responded, etc.
## SIMS Activation Overview
Cover when the network was activated, when the first SIMS Remote Coordinator ("SIMS Co") was activated, whether they dealt with a deployed IM Coordinator ("IM Co") or a national society IM focal point, and the number of people that provided remote support. When did SIMS de-activate?
## Remote Support Overview
What sorts of maps were requested? Any innovations or new types of products? How were the maps used?
### Information Design
Was there scenario planning done? Did the operation create a Movement Picture? What sorts of data visualizations were requested?
## Learning and Reflections
Create bullets that capture the most relevant and interesting learnings saved in the SIMS Portal. Feel free to add additional ones that you may have observed that were not logged.
- **Title:** Description of what was learned and how we plan to operationalize it (if it was a success) or change our processes to improve in the future (if it was a lesson learned).