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Spontaneous Volunteer Research Project

Updated: Apr 19, 2022

The NGO Alliance of Ontario is pleased to announce it has collaborated with York University for an exciting research project. Steve Elliott, Chairman of the NGO Alliance, and Disaster Relief Manager for Samaritans Purse Canada says “With the severity and frequency of disasters increasing across Ontario and Canada, being able to coordinate and document spontaneous volunteers will become more and more important for municipalities and organizations because people inherently want to help their fellow citizens in time of need. We should, and need to, be able to facilitate that”. Mr. Elliott adds that municipal Emergency Managers across Ontario will be receiving a link to complete the survey soon and he is encouraging them to all take the time to complete the survey.

The online survey is available at

Professor Ali Asgary, of York University’s Disaster & Emergency Management Program and Advanced Disaster & Rapid Response Simulation (ADERSIM), and his co-applicant, professor Ken McBey lead this project which values community collaboration in the effort of making positive change. Partnered with the NGO Alliance of Ontario and the City of Brampton, the study primarily focuses on understanding the role of spontaneous volunteers during major emergencies. “We hope to incorporate this knowledge into the development of a ‘spontaneous volunteer management system’ which could be utilized by Ontario municipalities and other agencies to help address these scenarios both in the real world, and in cyberspace”, says Professor Asgary.

To establish this new tool, the study will conduct a comprehensive literature review on the subject and gather input from key entities involved in spontaneous volunteer management across Ontario. Then they will use several facets of this information to design technology that accommodates the needs of relevant stakeholders. The final stage of the project will implement this technology, testing its prototype in the City of Brampton during an emergency exercise, then utilizing the results of the trial run to inform potential revisions.

“This grant enables us to study an important aspect of disaster and emergency management in Ontario and Canada,” Asgary said. “With this research, we can develop applications that will enhance spontaneous management during major emergencies more effectively. This grant also helps us engage in joint research and long-term collaborations with some of the main humanitarian agencies through the NGO Alliance of Ontario.”

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