Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tech, communities and #sandy (big data version)

This is my 6th post on how communities - physical and virtual, issue and skills-based - are using technology and social media to prepare for, respond to and recover from the storm #sandy.

1) Big Data
All of the #hurricanehacker mapping and needs/haves tools that have been created rely on data. They're taking tweets, FourSquare posts and images and aggregating them, sorting them, and making sense of them. I was also thrilled to get some insight from Direct Relief International about how big data plays into their work in times like this - specifically in determining who is most vulnerable and where they are. This is critical for Direct Relief International which, among other things, distributes prescription medicines to those hit by the storm. They have several interesting posts about how they work with a big data analytics firm in advance of, and during the storm. Disaster relief is not unlike UPS ads - logistics, logistics, logistics. It's good to see how both informal networks of hackers and established organizations like Direct Relief are using data tools to help our communities.

2) Fundraising
Will #sandy disrupt giving totals for the year? It hit just as New York's "gala" fundraising scene was ramping up. East coasters also account for a good percentage of blood donations and The Red Cross has been actively trying to encourage donations elsewhere both to meet the needs created by the storm and to fill the gap as east coast donation drives don't happen. We'll need to see how giving flows shift over time and whether giving in response to the storm outweighs those funds lost due to canceled events and fundraisers.

3) Infrastructure
Roads. Bridges. Tunnels. Walls. Homes. Businesses.  Cell towers, server farms, Internet cable. All damaged, all in need of repair. Some of the infrastructure is public, other parts are owned by commercial firms and dependent on public right-of-ways. Our communities need it all.

4) Learning from the present and past
Here's a useful collection of what works for neighbors using social media to help each other. Based as I am in San Francisco, it should go without saying that emergencies and disasters are something I think about a lot and try to stay prepared - I appreciate this one personally. (And I should point out that I found this through Twitter)

Here are the previous posts:

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