In the wake of Hurricane Sandy that devastated areas of the Caribbean and the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States, during late October 2012, the importance and need for disaster management has been further realised and the advantages that technology offers in implementing effective and user-friendly solutions.
The world watched as water flooded the streets and subways of New York City, one of the largest in the world, that also suffered a widespread power outage. In November 2012, New York City began installing the first of many smart screens to replace its under-used payphones. The 32-inch public smart screens provided information that included weather forecasts and yes, emergency broadcasts.
Now, Microsoft has launched a new app designed to help U.S. residents connect with family and friends, during a large scale natural disaster. HelpBridge also allows users to donate money, time and resources to support relief and rebuilding efforts.
HelpBridge lets users build a list of people who you would want to contact in an emergency. With one swipe users can let all those people know if they’re okay or if they need help via SMS, email and/or Facebook. The alert can also optionally provide your exact location via your phone’s GPS capabilities.
Gisli Olaffson, Emergency Response Director, NetHope said that, “Mobile phones have become one of the key tools for people in disaster affected areas to communicate, not only with their friends, but also with first responders. The simpler we can make it for people to let others know if they are fine or if they need assistance, the more likely they are of being able to get that information out.”
For more about HelpBridge, watch the video by Microsoft below: