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This edition of the App
It Up project "Cool App Roundup" highlights different ways apps
can be used in disaster, crisis, and emergency situations.
The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers a
preparedness app. The FEMA app includes preparation guidelines for a
variety of disasters, including checklists, safety tips, and local shelter
maps. Once you've downloaded the app, all this information is accessible
regardless of whether you have phone service or internet access during an
emergency. The FEMA app is available in the Android
marketplace, with iPhone and Blackberry versions coming soon.
The Red Cross has a
simple shelter search web app,
accessible via any web browser. Shelter information is updated every 30
The notification app J-ResQ was developed in response
to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The app was developed on the Windows Azure platform, a cloud-based
platform for building and hosting web applications. J-ResQ allows anyone in a
disaster situation to easily record and send a voice message and email from
their mobile phone, telling friends and family about their status. A GPS-based
location is also included with the message. Photos and video can also be
included. Concerned parties can then search for information and updates using
the message sender's email address.
Learn more about how Windows Azure has been used for disaster and emergency response here.
Fire Department is
an innovative app created by the San
Ramon Valley Fire Department. The app alerts CPR-certified individuals to
cardiac emergencies in their area. In response to a cardiac incident, emergency
dispatchers can send a notification message to Fire Department app users,
including the victim's location and the location of the nearest Automated
External Defibrillator (AED) device. The hope is that CPR-trained Good
Samaritans nearby may be able to respond even more quickly than emergency
services, in some cases. The San Ramon Valley Fire Department has recently launched
an initative to extend the reach of the app beyond San Ramon.
For more innovative and engaging ways to use technology for disaster
relief, check out NetSquared's tips on Mobilizing
Online Communities in the Face of Disaster and the
value of crowdsourcing for nonprofits. Also, Jim Lynch's piece
about digital volunteerism and disaster relief, and Elliot Harmon's post
about The Extraordinaries and Ushahidi being used in response to the
Can you think of ways an app would be helpful in disaster or
emergency situations? Do you know of other interesting ways apps are being
used? If your organization is involved in disaster or emergency response, do
you use apps to help you do your work?
Photo: Lee Maguire
Ariel Gilbert-Knight is a Senior Content Developer for TechSoup