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New tech tools help Haiti quake relief


Hundreds of tech volunteers spurred to action by Haiti’s killer quake are adding a new dimension to disaster relief, developing new tools and services for first responders and the public in an unprecedented effort, the Associated Press reports. “It really is amazing the change in the way crisis response can be done now,” said Noel Dickover, a Washington, D.C.-based organizer of the CrisisCamp tech volunteer movement, which is central to the Haiti effort. “Developers, crisis mappers and even internet-savvy folks can actually make a difference.” Volunteers have built and refined software for tracking missing people, mapping the disaster area and enabling urgent cell phone text messaging. Organizations including the International Red Cross, the United Nations, the World Bank and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency have put the systems to use. Tim Schwartz, a 28-year-old artist and programmer in San Diego, feared upon learning of the disaster that, with an array of social-networking sites active, crucial information about Haitian quake victims would “go everywhere on the internet and it would be very hard to actually find people–and get back to their loved ones,” he said. So Schwartz quickly e-mailed “all the developers I’d ever worked with…”

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