#Sandy- ICTs Role in Hurricane Sandy

For the sector project this past week, our group presented on ICTs in Disasters and Humanitarian Aid. We described that ICTs can be used for disaster preparedness, disaster response and disaster recovery as a way to warn individuals, mobilize aid, coordinate stakeholders, and locate individuals- just to name a few. With Hurricane Sandy hitting the Northeastern United States this past week, ICTs played a key role in the preparedness and recovery processes. This blog outlines some of the key ICTs that were used during and after the storm to increase efficiency and minimize damage.

–          Twitter: Recommended by FEMA as one of the best ways to communicate and receive data. The Washington Post even ran a story on how to use twitter when you lose internet due to the high volume of users and capability for information dissemination. Also, Twitter s “promoted tweets” were donated to organizations such as the Red Cross so their vital information could be disseminated to twitter feeds across the country

–          Apps such as “Public Stuff” are donating their back-end resources to local governments to use for relief aid.

–          Tracking Apps- Apps such as the Red Cross were used to track the storm to enable individuals to be as prepared as possible for when the storm hit.

–          OpenStreetMaps: program utilized by New York City to allow residents to identify evacuation zones for certain areas to avoid confusion.

–          Maps/Tools: Google offered these services for disaster responders to coordinate need, location and resources.

–          Webcams: webcams were used to get live footage of areas to keep people updated on loved ones and to dissuade people from going outside and “checking”.

–          Open Content: News organizations such as the New York Times took down their paywalls during the storm and post-disaster which allows individuals to access these news sites for free and keep up to date without needing a subscription.

–          Text: Text services were opened up by FEMA to allow citizens to text a number to locate their nearest shelter.

Clearly, ICTs were heavily used in the past few days as the storm hit and in the immediate response. However, I think we will truly see these resources come into play as cities begin to rebuild and and the recovery process is managed and evaluated.

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4 responses to “#Sandy- ICTs Role in Hurricane Sandy

  • hfritchi

    Please view the general blog for a LOT more information on how ICTs are being used during Sandy!

  • Paige Boetefuer

    It’s interesting how social media technology tools can become so important for disaster response efforts. Another tool that has been used a lot is Facebook. People can share pictures and news stories, stay connected with family members, and share information about damage. However, the problem with all of these ICT tools is that the people who are the most negatively affected by the disaster will not be able to use these tools. Lack of power and electricity, major destruction of property, and being physically hurt by the storm will impede them from using these helpful tools. So they are great for those that are mildly affected by the storm, but we must not forget the worst off.

  • katy11hermann

    During hurricane Isaac I was amazed by how useful twitter can be, the power of this social media had was incredible and progressive. I had previously only used twitter for entertainment, but the rapid and short messages made for a perfect way to spread information. We found out about which road were blocked, what areas were flooded, and what places were open by using twitter. It gave us all a feeling of safety since it was the only way we were still connected to the outside world.
    The problem though in relying on twitter for disasters is that it cuts out parts of the population. It was helpful for us because we all had smartphones that were charged. For people who even having a charged phone is an issue, a disaster situation that goes beyond a couple of days would make these tools useless. In developing countries where mobile phones are less prevalent and smart phones almost non existent, it would seem this would not be the ideal technology.
    Hopefully we can see twitter develop, as well as mobile technology, so that for future disasters it can aid more people.

  • npham2

    ICT during disasters is very useful, and we can clearly see this during hurricanes such as Isaac and Sandy. When telephone lines and other resources are down, people can use their phones to access apps or sites to communicate with other people. I think it is great for government agencies and news agency to utilize social networking to disseminate information. During Isaac I was able to use internet on my phone and social media to get information about NOLA when I evacuated. I think these new ICT interfaces are very useful in such situations.

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