My grandma was trapped in mandatory evacuation zone with hurricane Irene fast approaching. As an elderly Russian immigrant, she didn’t have much access to good information about the storm. I rushed to the internet to see what I can find so that I can give her the best advice I can.
Flash back to the earthquake in Haiti and I was part of an exciting example of how technology tools can be used in the face of a disaster. The non-profit I work for, Digital Democracy, had two staff in Port-Au-Prince when the earthquake struck. One of our advisors put up a crisismapping platform, Ushahidi, to help them and others crowdsource messages of help and emergency. SMS, Tweets and Facebook posts were placed on a map by concerned students in Boston so that emergency responders could save lives in Haiti. Thankfully our staff made it back safe, though they were shaken up and our equipment was crushed in their collapsed residence.