When local governments and federal aid organizations must organize in order to locate survivors, mobilize rescue missions, or coordinate volunteer efforts in the wake of a disaster, a mobile app can serve as a surprisingly useful tool.
After the earthquake that devastated Nepal in April of 2015, Facebook instituted a new feature: users could mark themselves “safe” to indicate to all their friends and family members that they had not been harmed in the disaster. Although the feature is still being perfected, millions of users have since benefitted from being able to quickly and easily communicate their safety with everyone on their friends list.
Friends and families aren’t the only ones who benefit from safety alert technology in case of such disasters. In recent years, humanitarian organizations like Red Cross have realized how powerful disaster relief tech can be — and to harness it, they’ve started developing and releasing their own mobile apps. With apps for everything from first aid to tornado alerts, these groups are setting up a system for relief before disaster even strikes.
With apps like Real Time Alerts, anyone with a smartphone is able to access real-time information about catastrophes around the world. How can real-time data make a difference? As Push Technology points out, it used to be that residents of rural and disconnected areas were in the dark about the specifics of a storm until it was practically on top of them. With a real-time alert system, this is no longer the case — by checking the app, any concerned citizen can receive constant updates about a disaster happening anywhere in the world.
As technology is improving, real-time alerts may even turn into pre-disaster alerts. At the University of California Berkeley, researchers have created an app that will be able to issue an earthquake warning to users 40 seconds before the earthquake actually strikes. As for the aftermath, the folks at FireChat Alerts have got that covered, too. With an offline messaging system, FireChat ensures that rescue agencies will be able to communicate even when the phone lines are down.
When disaster strikes, who’s going to pay to fix it? Activist apps can be a huge resource for humanitarians organizing fundraising campaigns. In order to create a donation space, there are a few options: those raising money for the disaster can use a pre-existing service, like GoFundMe, or create a custom donation app, using some rudimentary app-making knowhow.
However, services like Kickstarter and GoFundMe take a cut of each donation: to really make the most of people’s goodwill, create your own service that doesn’t skim off the top of donated funds.
Another benefit to making a new app is that it’s entirely customizable — rescuers can program in volunteer signups, missing persons information, and more.
Until help can arrive it’s important that those affected are given all the information they need in order to fend for themselves. This is where apps like the American Red Cross app come in handy. With expert advice on how to handle nearly every emergency situation, the program puts all pertinent rescue info into the hands of those experiencing the disaster.
Similarly, FEMA’s app provides preparedness information and disaster resources, arming users with important information from the lead-up to the disaster to the aftermath. By putting this information at users’ fingertips, these apps enable them to enact best practices even when rescue is still far away.
With DIY app making platforms like AppMakr, building life-saving apps like these isn’t as hard as you might think. If any of the information above inspired a disaster relief idea of your own, AppMakr is a quick way to create an app that could have far-reaching results.
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