Lessons From Haiti Will Aid Chile

google chile relief apps

Earlier today Chile experienced a massive earthquake (you can see images of the damage on The BIg Picture). Now, just hours after the event online disaster relief sites are being spun up to aid the survivors. These are all variations on sites that were created to help Haiti survivors.

Google quickly sprang into action reusing many Haiti built-tools:

Crisis Response – This serves as a portal for all of Google’s efforts. From here you can donate to victims, track the news and view the latest maps.

Person Finder: Chile Earthquake – Built on Google’s AppEngine, this app aims to let people enter and retrieve information about people on the ground. It has an API and rich search functonality. News organizations agreed to update Google’s application in an attempt to create a central repository (to avoid the conflicting data issues that happened in the wake of Katrina).

Mapmaker Download – Google’s Mapmaker allows you to map the world from home. It then releases the data under licensing that enables NGOs and relief organizations to use it ( though many find the wording of the license quite confusing their data is actively used).

The Crisis Mappers have also reacted quickly. They have launched chile.ushahidi.com. IN Haiti the Ushahidi portal took in tens of thousands of text messages and plotted them on a map for NGOs and relief workers. The Crisis Mappers had teams working around the clock to convert the texts to english. The team is already working to set up shortcodes for the SMS service in Chile. Ushahidi uses Open Street Maps and will be relying on its network of volunteers to build out those maps.

I have written about how these disaster-relief applications were used in Haiti and the people behind them. We are now seeing the emergence of the disastertech platform. As Jesse Robbins says it a pattern of reuse. Each disaster will build upon the previous platforms.

If you want to help Donate, help out online, go to a CrisisCamp (there’s one happening in DC today) or spend some time working on the maps of Chile at Mapmaker or Open Street Map.