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[liberationtech] Tech aids Haiti -- Delete if not interested

Yosem Companys ycompanys at gmail.com
Sat Jan 16 16:28:15 PST 2010


http://www.physorg.com/print182872606.html

 Technology comes to the aid of HaitiJanuary 16th, 2010 in Technology / Hi
Tech & Innovation
[image: Millions of dollars in donations for Haiti have been raised in
contributions by SMS]

Enlarge <http://cdn.physorg.com/newman/gfx/news/hires/millionsofdo.jpg>


A photo provided by ECHO, shows an aerial view of houses flattened following
a major earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on January 12. Online
maps, mobile phone donations, wikis and a slew of websites are being
deployed as telecoms firms, technology giants and startups set aside their
rivalries and put the latest tools to work to help the earthquake-ravaged
nation.

*Online maps, mobile phone donations, wikis and a slew of websites are being
deployed as telecoms firms, technology giants and startups set aside their
rivalries and put the latest tools to work to help earthquake-ravaged Haiti.
*

"Technology is playing a key role in mobilizing support for the victims of
the Haiti <http://www.physorg.com/tags/haiti/> earthquake and also in
coordinating relief efforts," said Akhtar Badshah, Microsoft's senior
director of global community affairs.

Badshah, in a blog post, said Microsoft had donated 1.25 million dollars and
was working with NetHope, which brings together Care, MercyCorps,
WorldVision and other humanitarian organizations with technology companies.

Cisco and Intel are also members of NetHope, which is seeking to establish
Internet connectivity for the various relief agencies on the ground helping
victims of Tuesday's quake, which left tens of thousands of people dead.

Microsoft said a NetHope Haiti Emergency Center was already serving as a
focal point for reports, events, contact lists and collaboration.

Google <http://www.physorg.com/tags/google/>, besides making a
one-million-dollar donation for rescue and relief, offered its online
mapping and satellite imagery tools to aid workers so they can better
evaluate damage and coordinate responses.

The Internet giant also created a Web page devoted to linking people with
charitable groups such as the American Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders.

Apple, meanwhile, was allowing iTunes users to make donations of from five
dollars to 200 dollars to the Red Cross directly from their accounts at the
online music store.

Millions of dollars in donations to the Red
Cross<http://www.physorg.com/tags/red+cross/>,
Yele, a charity set up by Haitian-born hip-hop singer Wyclef Jean, and
others have been raised after US mobile phone companies made it easy to
contribute money by text message.

"Yele" and "Help Haiti" remained among the most popular topics on
Twitter<http://www.physorg.com/tags/twitter/> on
Friday as users of the microblogging service -- a vital source of news in
the first hours of the quake -- urged one another to give by text message.

US telecom companies -- from AT&T to Verizon -- announced donations for
relief efforts, free calls to Haiti or assistance in helping rebuild its
shattered communications infrastructure.

"Haiti's need for communications services is extraordinary and urgent," said
Julius Genachowski, chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission.

"It is vitally important that people on the ground in Haiti have the
communications capacity to conduct rescue and recovery missions, connect
with loved ones... and move forward with overall recovery efforts," he said.

Telecoms Without Borders deployed two emergency teams to set up satellite
facilities for use by emergency responders and planned another network to
allow people to make free two-minute calls anywhere in the world to
relatives.

On the Web, a number of sites were posting pictures and messages aimed at
reuniting families or locating missing persons including the International
Committee of the Red Cross's FamilyLinks.icrc.org and the Haitian Earthquake
Registry at haitianquake.com.

Google was offering a "person finder" at HaitiCrisis.appspot.com while an
"Earthquake Haiti" group on Facebook was providing a similar service and had
attracted more than 186,000 members as of Friday afternoon.

The New York Times was also posting pictures of the missing on its website
as was another US news organization, CNN, through its "iReport" site.

The Haiti Volunteer Network at haitivolunteer.org was bringing together
volunteers and organizations while Microsoft and Google were united with
Yahoo! and others in a collaborative online wiki project called
CrisisCommons.org.

"We collect data like imagery from satellites and information on Twitter or
Flickr then distribute it to NGOs who can remix it to fit their own needs,"
said Sean Gorman, founder of FortiusOne, one of the participants.

Satellite images, for example, can help aid groups trucking in supplies
avoid blocked roads or locate victims.

Another online tool, Ushahidi, which was developed to monitor post-election
violence in Kenya in 2008 and means "testimony" in Swahili, is also being
used to map the destruction in Haiti.

Ushahidi collects information through mobile
phone<http://www.physorg.com/tags/mobile+phone/>,
email or Web services such as Twitter or Flickr and uses Google Maps to
create an interactive map and timeline.

"Tomorrow, we will have lots of information coming by SMS because cell
networks will be back up," said Ushahidi's Patrick Meier, a co-founder of
the International Network of Crisis Mappers.

*(c) 2010 AFP*
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