As Nepal faces the aftermath of April’s devastating earthquake that claimed over 7,500 lives, technologies like drones, people finders, and crowdsourcing platforms are playing a role in disaster relief.
Drones, so often associated with the violence of military warfare, are contributing to emergency-response efforts in Nepal by videoing and mapping the disaster zone. Using thermal sensors and ultra-zoom lenses, camera-equipped drones scan the wreckage and identify survivors. And soon, unmanned aerial vehicles might also be able to deliver critical medical supplies, food, and water to hard-to-reach areas.
Search and social giants are also using their vast digital networks to help locate friends and family in affected areas. Google’s Person Finder sends notifications to searchers about their loved ones each time others submit an update on them. Facebook’s Safety Check lets users know their Facebook friends are okay based on whether they have marked themselves as safe. The International Committee of the Red Cross has also created a website for registering missing persons or reporting yourself as alive.
Crowdsourcing platforms, too, are rallying support from around the world. Through Tomnod, volunteers can tag satellite images to help arm relief teams with crowdsourced maps. And using online fundraising sites like Global Giving, donors can make financial contributions via text message.
If you’d like to join Global Giving in its mission to raise $1 million for Nepal, donate $10 by texting “Give Nepal” to 80088 from your U.S. mobile phone.