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Disaster, recovery, and coding for good

As many of us on the east coast are getting up to assess damage, help friends and relatives, and respond to worried messages from those in other parts of the country, let’s remind ourselves of some of the great projects in the technology community that get a disproportionate amount of attention at this time — but often not enough at other times.
Community software that organizes communities. You can prepare a community in advance of disaster, or quickly organize in event of disaster. One of the most active communities on there right now is the Lower East Side in New York City. You can: “1.) Request assistance 2.) Offer volunteer skills 3.) Offer donation items.”

NVOAD – National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
“National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that serves as the forum where organizations share knowledge and resources throughout the disaster cycle—preparation, response, recovery and mitigation—to help communities prepare for and recover from disasters.” Learn more about getting involved.

Ushahidi is a tool to organize information quickly and easily. It’s quite impressive. Ushahidi posted some coverage of Hurricane Sandy yesterday, and this is an OFDA (USAID) dashboard from the storm, but I expect to see more from that platform soon as more data about the scope and impact of the storm comes in.

Google Crisis Response
This project is always very popular at Grace Hopper’s Open Source Day. This is the map for Sandy. If you are part of an organization that has data that could help in a crisis, Google partners with many organizations to get the data (apply here).

Most of these references were gleaned from a discussion on Sunlight Labs. And of course (you knew it was coming) there’s my obligatory mention of Random Hacks of Kindness, a great organization/series of events that connect people to problems that need to be solved — and crisis apps are often a topic at a hack. Find an event near you.

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