November 11, 2012

Reaching The Victims Of Disaster

I watched on TV, a congressman from Staten Island talk about the complex response to Hurricane Sandy--in particular, how people whose homes were flooded and were without power could not contact authorities for the help they desperately needed.

Going on two weeks after the storm, the Congressman explained how engineers and architects were in turn going door to door to find out who needed help and what could be done--but this was slow and cumbersome. 

Today, I am reading in Bloomberg BusinessWeek (30 Oct. 2012) about an organization that "matches volunteers with people affected by disasters." does this by establishing local recovery sites for communities (e.g. on a subscription model.
By establishing recovery sites to manage relief efforts--without waiting for government or aid enables self-sufficiency for communities in the face of disaster.

Moreover, by working at the grassroots level and going straight to neighborhood organizations such as houses or worship or community centers to serve as site administrators--those who know their community and who needs help--Recovers aims to bypass the "red tape."

The recovery sites they establish, include features for: 

- Searchable volunteer database that matches skills of volunteers to needs in the community
- Disaster Dashboard that aids in information sharing between victims and responders
- Donation mechanism where 100% goes directly to the areas affected, rather than to a relief organization

Recovers is the brainchild of someone whose own home was destroyed in a tornado in 2011, and who understands the logistical chaos that can ensue without proper recovery coordination on the ground!

I like the idea of this community Recovery portal for coordinating relief efforts through volunteers and donations, and see this as complementary to the formal FEMA site for applying for various forms of assistance and checking claims.

Still though, the fundamental problem exists when you have no power--you can't logon to or are still cut-off and in need of help. So it looks like we are back to the drawing board on this one again.

As a vision for the future, we need the ability to establish remote wireless charging generally-speaking for all, but specifically for communities struck by disaster, so they can call out for help and we can actually hear them and provide a timely respond!  ;-)


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