Hurricane’s Biggest Protection: Connectivity and Data

Pending disasters are a call for people to get together and share ideas and information, just in case the blows get bad. This is not the first time there’s been a hurricane hitting the US, but what separates it from those that came before it is the level of connectivity among citizens.  Information collaboration of the government and the people has spawned the internet with more than enough accurate and useful information during calamities, in this case Hurricane Irene, and marked the intensification of data journalism amidst it all.

Aside from the popular social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, we also have Drew Olanoff of Get Satisfaction doing his share for Hurricane Irene by initiating a community-powered support network.  Get Satisfaction is a white label community platform that powers the world’s best brands to solve problems, give a voice to champions, bring out the best ideas and drive better business. The new network is only one of the arrays of support communities offered by the company.  It has some notable features, such as additional support links to a Disaster Prevention Guide, and CNN updates. Though it only has a handful members and 17 posted topics, it’s the thought that matters. Here’s the link to the network.

Next, we’ve got Nirvanix offering free cloud storage to customers affected by the Hurricane Irene. Through a new program, Nirvanix enables its customers storing data in its Node 4 data center in Jew Jersey to transfer them to other locations in the Nirvanix Cloud Network Storage.  Aside from Jersey, they have 4 other data centers: one in Los Angeles, one in Dallas, one in Frankfurt, Germany and one in Tokyo, Japan.

“We are standing by ready to assist our customers as they face an unprecedented natural disaster which President Obama referred to as a ‘historic hurricane’,” said Scott Genereux, President & CEO of Nirvanix.

“By storing their data in the Nirvanix cloud, customers benefit from the transparent movement of data from one region to another with no impact to their business operations. By making the shift from the physical machine to the virtual cloud, our customers have embraced a more agile and adaptable business continuity strategy.”

Moreover, here’s Alex Howard of O’Reilly Radar offering a list of nifty tracking links from the government, media and crowdsource sources.

• New York City government datamine with lots of Irene-related geographic data.
• Google Earth kmz files for New York City hurricane evacuation zones.
• Maryland state government Google Earth-based iReport for hurricane damage reporting.
• New York Times hurricane tracking map feeding off National Weather Service data.
• Hurricane Irene cleanup map using Ushahidi interface.
• Geographic information system (GIS) and tweet mashup Florida GATOR with lots of downloadable files.
• Google’s hurricane GIS/weather data aggregator.

The Department of Defense and the interagency community have been studying people’s reliance on information and communication technology in the event of calamities for a while now.  The National Security and Technology Policy has Dr. Linton Well II spearheading the study on developing government capabilities for crowdsourcing and testing other ICT resources in case of calamities.  The results of the exercise on crowdsourcing and collaborative tools back in April reveals the importance of Well IIs Crowd, Bridge, Transaction, and Feedback model, which sift and analyze information from crowds using various tools and filters, and then passes on the results to decision makers for execution purposes. The government utilization of crowdsourcing tools for the past 48 hours echoes this standard.