Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, devastated the Philippines last week, killing up to 10,000 people. Relief efforts are now underway, including one by the Geeklist Corps of Developers, which is recruiting coders, product managers and other tech experts from around the world to build tools that will help coordinate rescue efforts, enable crisis communication and make sure emergency supplies and food are quickly distributed to areas in need.
The initiative is working with the government of the Philippines to deploy and start using finished projects. Kat Borlongan, the initiative’s coordinator, tells me that they are searching for designers, developers, product managers and social media experts to help out.
“We have a lot of volunteers with their hearts in the right place with little to no experience in any of this, so product managers specialized in virtual collaboration are needed. Also, at the point we are now, pre-formed teams with their own ideas on how to make this happen are more than welcome,” she says.
Among the projects underway on the Geeklist platform is the Rescue Coordination (hashtag #ReliefPH on social media platforms), which is helping rescue efforts be better organized by developing tools to sort through requests for rescues that are being sent through multiple sources, including SMS, Twitter and Web forms. Members of the project based in the Philippines are working with resource providers to map relief needs such as water, food, shelter and medicine. An early prototype of their interactive map is currently up at Relief.io.
The initiative is not just for emergency rescue efforts. Borlongan adds that another key focus is rebuilding.
“Right now telecoms are down in many areas and roads are blocked, hampering relief efforts. Emergency lighting is being installed to reopen airport runways and deliver emergency generators and Télecoms San Frontières are working with local telecoms companies to restore communications. Once communications are restored, requests for Rescue and Relief are expected to snowball,” she says.