Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Technology Use During Gustav

I have a new Labor Day weekend tradition; hurricane watching. Much like tornadoes hitting trailer parks, having a major hurricane over the holiday weekend seems to be something we can count on. Fortunately, Gustav was not has bad as it could have been.

Over the weekend I looked for ways in which technology was being used to manage and communicate during the storm.

  • The Department of Homeland Security created several Federal Hurricane Response Widgets.

  • NOAA also created several NOAAWatch Web Widgets.
  • General Motors saw a 30 percent increase in calls to its OnStar service. In addition to providing computerized maps and information on hotel vacancies, OnStar offered information on locations of Red Cross shelters. Many subscribers made use of a 30 minute free airtime GM offered to drivers to make calls to family and friends. It has been reported that at one point they were receiving 3000 calls an hour.
  • Globel Relief Technologies provided 29 PDA/GPS/Sat Phones to Red Cross volunteers. The PDAs recorded the status of electricity, food supplies and shelter, and even took pictures. The data and visual material was uploaded to the Red Cross operations center so agency officials could direct resources to where they were need most. Even FEMA doesn't use this technology.
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