Technology Innovation from Disaster Recovery

A resilient community is the one that sees obstacles as opportunities for transformation. For the resilient community, a disaster can be a catalyst for technological innovation to solve problems that might emerge during disaster recovery efforts.

Need and aid matching platform: On June 1st, 2011, an EF3 tornado hit Western Massachusetts, including Caitria and Morgan O’Neill’s house. Both of them had no experience with natural disasters. As they began to re-build the town, they discovered that there were unmet needs in terms of matching what local citizen needs and what public contribute. During the first week, financial or volunteer contributions poured in,  but local communities were too busy to utilize this aid. Local volunteers were untrained for disaster response and staff sent from disaster relief organizations did not have sufficient knowledge about local communities and conditions. As a result, Caitria and Morgan came up with a solution, a web platform (https://recovers.org/) that include searchable databases, social media aggregation and mobile tools that allow volunteer organizers to actively match needs with aid. The web platform can be leveraged across other local cities/towns.

Volunteer and emergency information app: The Ready Qld is a smartphone application that helps mobilize and coordinate volunteers before, during, and after disasters. The Ready Qld application was developed by Volunteering Queensland with assistance from the University of Queensland after the Queensland’s massive floods destroyed buildings and local areas a massive number of volunteers rant to help the city clean the area. Now citizens can register themselves through their smartphone. The smartphone application also provides disaster preparation information resources.[1]

Co-producing stories of resilience: Although this project didn’t emerge from disaster recovery efforts, it is a good example of a community bonding. “Lemonade: Detroit” is a video project that captures a city of Detroit’s resilience. Using a storytelling format, the firm captures various stories of citizens’ resilience to build the city’s future. These are stories of people who are trying to build a better future for their city. The video took a crowdfunding approach by letting individuals become co-producers by purchasing frames or parts of frames. So far, 2,941 producers have funded 86,595 frames.

Do you know of other innovations that have emerged around disasters?

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