When the history of the Haitian earthquake of 2010 is written, much will be said about the role of technology helping both individuals and organizations. Among the interesting stories is that of a documentary photographer who was returning to his hotel when the earthquake hit. Trapped in the rubble, he used his iPhone as a flashlight to evaluate his situation. Then he used a medical app to figure out how to treat his excessive bleeding and compound fracture. And this is just one of numerous examples of how digital age technology has contributed to problem-solving during this crisis.
Text-messaging, often cited as the problem for drivers and teenagers became part of the solution for earthquake relief efforts. Just a week after the earthquake, texting had raised $18 million for the American Red Cross. The general public was asked to contribute by texting “HAITI” to 90999. A ten dollar donation would be charged to their phone bills. That effort continues. Text messaging, Twitter and Facebook also continue to be key communication devices for people in Haiti as well as those on the outside looking in for loved ones.
Another story involves someone trapped in rubble, using his digital camera to photograph his surroundings and his injuries. He then used the images to guide him to a “safer” area. Obviously this could not have been achieved in the age of film cameras. In consideration of these stories, it would be nice if future iterations of the iPhone and iPod Touch would include a method for deploying tools to help trapped folk dig themselves out of the rubble but no one said an iPhone has to be more like a Swiss Army knife – though it would be nice. Regardless, who knew that apps could be helpful in an earthquake?
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