Internet’s Role in Ondoy Relief Efforts

12 10 2009

 Reading news articles and watching you tube videos about Typhoon Ketsana/Ondoy (which hit the Philippines on September 26, 2009, I was horrified by what life has become for those in the affected areas.  I noticed when watching the news on different TV stations that each directed viewers to their stations’ personal website to look for ways one can help but this didn’t seem like the most effective effort possible.  I call attention to this because there have been problems within the US even in the response and attempted efforts after Hurricane Katrina.  With relief efforts in the actual disaster area, organization is the key to planning and successful execution.  Organization is also a key element in efforts outside of the hurt area.  Posting information scattered throughout the internet is not the best we can do.  

Google has set up a webpage in an attempt to centralize information regarding the typhoon and various relief efforts.  The address is: http://www.google.com/landing/typhoon-ondoy.html.  On the page there are Google Maps of the Philippines with markers noting where there is road construction, donation centers, missing persons, and other situations.  There are also links for news/information and contact information for disaster relief organizations.    An extensive list is available of banks and the corresponding information needed to make money donation transfers, there are links to make money donations by credit card or pay pal, directions on how to make money donations through text messaging, and where to go to make in person donations.  If you visit the website you can find three Bay Area donation drop off locations listed (in San Francisco, Daly City, and Oakland) where you can bring items or check/cash donations.

This webpage is a fantastic use of technology to organize all related Ondoy information in one place.  What Google has created is a “one stop shop.”  Everyone who comes to this webpage (from those hurt in the disaster, people in the surrounding area who want to help, and others who can’t be there but want to donate money or goods) can make a posting on the maps asking for help or find a way to make a donation in the easiest form for themselves. I think that if strategies like this are used and improved upon our reactions to disasters can be made more effective. 

-Bobbie

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