Main Content

Leveraging volunteer groups and technology

In case you missed it, I wanted to share a recent story by the Christian Science Monitor highlighting Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK). A Random Hacks of Kindness is where developers and tech-savvy volunteers come together for a weekend to develop software solutions for challenges facing humanity. Imagine that, hacking for good.

As the Christian Science Monitor article notes, last year, Administrator Fugate challenged the group to create a mobile phone application where disaster survivors could tell friends and relatives that they are OK – without overwhelming the cell phone service capacity needed for emergency responders. Earlier this winter, FEMA again challenged Random Hacks of Kindness to build off the Administrator’s idea and create a comprehensive mobile application that could update friends and family on a variety of channels simultaneously.

At FEMA, we often refer to the importance of engaging the entire "emergency management team" in building America’s ability to prepare, respond, and recover from disasters. Crisis Commons and Crisis Mappers are volunteer technology groups that come together to support crises and provide technology solutions. As volunteers focused on solving problems related to emergency management, they are a critical member of this team – and a great example of how we can leverage technology, collaboration, and creativity to strengthen our resiliency.

An encouraging trend in emergency management is the formation of volunteer technology communities where tech folks come together in their community before a disaster and discuss their skill sets, needs, and possible projects. This way if a disaster occurs in their community, they can get to work right away because the relationships and networks have already been established ahead of time.

If you're part of your local volunteer tech community or you’re thinking of starting a group near you, what challenges and successes have you experienced?

- Shayne

Last Updated: 
06/18/2012 - 10:53


FEMA MUST do more to educate and promote the use o...

FEMA MUST do more to educate and promote the use of amateur radio resources

I agree. . . As a participant in an amateur radio...

I agree. . .<br /><br />As a participant in an amateur radio regional emergency communications network in the PA, DE, NJ, and MD areas, it is vital that other forms of communication are established and working in the event of an emergency. While some may disagree, this "is" technology and is often interfaced and enhanced through other electronic devices via EchoLink, for example.<br /><br />“If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.”

Add new comment