Haiti: Technology in a Time of Crisis

From Flickr user Allen Harper (Creative Commons)

By Scott Stadum.

Over the past week I’ve been keeping track of the technological and web-based aid initiatives related to the Haiti recovery. A number of groups—some previously related, some disparate—have quickly come together to leverage their skills, technologies and communities in this time of crisis. I want to highlight a number of these projects to give you an idea of what is happening in this sector.


The Drawing Together campaign, including OpenStreetMap, the International Community of Crisis Mappers, Crisis Commons, Ushahidi and others, are working together to map the crisis and share the information with people working on the ground.

Finding People

Google has created a people finder tool using Google AppEngine, which you can access here. Google is encouraging other people finder tools to contribute their data to the project and are making all the data publicly available. Google and Skype are also offering free VOIP calls to Haiti.

Interactive Tools

The Google Earth Blog has highlighted a number of interactive tools you can use now, like the New York Times tool showing some of the hardest hit locations in Haiti, and Microsoft’s Photosynth tool mapping damaged areas in Port-au-Prince.

Building Tools

Last weekend the Sunlight Foundation held a hackathon, bringing “together specialists in database creation, visualization, geospatial data and other fields in order to build reliable tools that field workers and other volunteers will be able to use on laptops and mobile devices.”

Sorting the Missing

The Extraordinaries are using microvolunteering opportunities to sort and tag disaster images and to submit, sort and tag images of missing persons.

Bridging Technology

Telecoms Sans Frontieres, MapAction, InSTEDD and others have people on the ground bridging technology like mobile telecom rigs and satellite phones with information and virtual volunteer initiatives.


HaitiVolunteer.org is working diligently to aggregate volunteer opportunities and volunteer information. You can also check out what InterAction partners are needing and and related volunteer information at Tonic.com.

If you know of other projects, please leave a comment below.

Previous Haiti-related posts:

Helping Haiti: Things to Consider

Haiti Earthquake Response

[This blog entry first appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]

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