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Apps for Disaster Planning

Apps for Disaster Planning

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HelpBridge app for Android

TechSoup recently updated its disaster planning and recovery guide, The Resilient Organization, to include the new ways nonprofits, charities, and public libraries are using technology. One of the big additions to the guide is a section on backing up a mobile phone or tablet. To supplement this section, we compiled the best disaster preparedness apps from TechSoup donation partners, government agencies, other nonprofits, and more.

Apps by TechSoup Donation Partners

  • In times of emergency, locating your family and friends is a priority. Microsoft's HelpBridge (Android, iOS, Windows Phone) connects you with friends and family during a large-scale disaster such as an earthquake or a hurricane. It also lets you give time, money and resources to support efforts. 
  • Back up your tablet or smartphone with Norton Mobile Security by Symantec (Android, iOS) before disaster strikes.
  • The Esri ArcGIS app (Windows 8) is useful for organizations that wish to build their own relief-related maps. The app  lets you preview different data skews and features from Esri's mapping software

Government Agency Apps

  • FEMA App (Android, BlackBerry, iOS) contains disaster safety tips, interactive lists for storing your emergency kit and emergency meeting location information, and a map with open local shelters and open FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers.
  • Although the National Institutes of Health's Wireless Information for Emergency Responders/WISER (Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Windows Phone) is actually designed for hazmat teams and other first responders, its wealth of information makes it noteworthy. The app contains information about how to safely handle and dispose of a toxin, or what symptoms to look for when determining whether people have been exposed to a certain toxin.

Apps Made by Nonprofits

  • Developed by the Pacific Disaster Center, Disaster Alert (Android, iOS) shows global hazard information via a map that updates in real-time.
  • Mobile technologies can help people find shelter information in time of need. The Red Cross hurricane app uses GPS to find the nearest shelters. You can also text SHELTER and your zip code to 43352 (4FEMA) to find a local shelter.
  • Can an app save lives? Yes! Pocket First Aid & CPR (Android, iOS) is a mobile app by the American Heart Association. The app includes up-to-date emergency information, a first aid kit checklist and detailed first aid procedures. Read about how Pocket First Aid & CPR helped save a life in the Haiti Earthquake of 2010.
  • Your Plan (iOS) by the Insurance Information Institute has preloaded checklists so you can prepare your organization before disaster strikes.

Other Useful Apps

  • bReddi (Facebook) lets you collaborate with your staff to come up with a disaster plan.
  • Emergency Radio (iOS) helps you stay informed by connecting you to live police, fire, EMS, railroad, air traffic, and coast guard scanners across the country.
  • StopDisaster (iOS) is a beautifully-designed app with all the tools you'll need before, during, and after an emergency. It includes an emergency kit shopping list, an option to build an emergency contact list, and countdown timers to alert you when food, documents, or medicine in your kit are about to expire.

Got a personal favorite disaster preparedness app? Let us know in the comments!   

Image of HelpBridge for Android courtesy of Microsoft. 

Ginny Mies is a Content Curator at TechSoup Global.