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Is the Sharing Economy Set Up to Help or Turn a Profit When Disaster Strikes?

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, August 15 2014

Faces of Airbnb hosts who offered free housing during Hurricane Sandy (screenshot)

During Hurricane Sandy, many users of peer-to-peer platforms like Airbnb and TaskRabbit offered free housing or reduced prices to victims of the disaster. But others took advantage of those in need and raised prices. Can the sharing economy resolve its inherent contradictions? Read More

WeGov

In Lebanon, Dark Humor Has Practical Use

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, January 29 2014

Screenshot of the Google Play app

An application that began as a dark joke has actually found quite a bit of traction in troubled Lebanon. After a suicide bombing rocked part of Beirut January 21, Sandra Hassan uploaded “I Am Alive” to Google Play, an application that lets you send an alert to Twitter saying you survived.

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WeGov

Philippines Gov't Launches Portal To Transparently Handle Foreign Aid

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, November 25 2013

Hygiene kits and water in the Philippines (Flickr/U.S. Embassy in Manila)

Foreign funds are flooding into the Philippines in the wake of Super-typhoon Haiyan, known in the Philippines as Yolanda. Three days ago the World Bank increased its aid package to nearly US$1 billion. The Asian Development Bank will provide up to US$523 million in assistance. To ensure the funds are used in a responsible manner, the Philippines Department of Budget and Management launched the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub, or FAiTH.

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WeGov

Red Cross Relies on OpenStreetMap in Haiyan Relief Efforts

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, November 13 2013

Screenshot of the OpenStreetMap of Tacloban

Humanitarian organizations are amping up their use of crowdsourcing made possible by the Internet. On Monday, techPresident reported that the United Nations partnership with the Digital Humanitarian Network resulted in groundbreaking use of human computing and machine computing to sift through big data in the aftermath of Super-typhoon Haiyan. In a similar vein, for the first time the Red Cross coordinated their response to Haiyan based on information crowdsourced on OpenStreetMap (OSM).

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WeGov

Ushahidi Responds To Westgate With Two New Emergency Response Tools

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, September 30 2013

Once again, violence has compelled the Kenyan organization Ushahidi to build new tools for disasters and emergencies, natural or otherwise. Ushahidi launched their popular mapping platform in 2008 so that people could track reports of post-election violence. Since then, they have also launched SwiftRiver and Crowdmap, and have built a backup Internet generator called BRCK. The Westgate Mall attack, so close to their home base, in a way sent them back to their roots: figuring out how to respond best to, and mitigate the worst effects of, violence.

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WeGov

Can Patrick Meier's New App MicroMappers Completely Change The Way We Think About Clicktivism?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, September 19 2013

Patrick Meier (SHAREconference / Flickr)

Imagine 20, 30, or even 50 thousand volunteers helping a community, whether on the other side of the country or the other side of the world, in the aftermath of a disaster, and all with just a few swipes on a smartphone. Patrick Meier's new platform MicroMappers makes that possible, and anyone with an Internet connection and five minutes to spare can contribute to disaster relief.

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WeGov

Build Your Own Disaster Relief Drone

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, June 26 2013

The OpenRelief Drone (carrierdetect/Flickr)

Anyone with a thousand bucks and some engineering know-how can now build their very own drone. Unlike those controversial ones used in the “drone war,” these are made for disaster relief.

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After Oklahoma Disaster, Neighbors Look Online for Ways To Help

BY Sam Roudman | Tuesday, May 21 2013

In echoes of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast, social media sites and small business websites in and around tornado-wracked Moore, Okla., are full of offers of help, questions about missing pets and loved ones, and evidence that neighbors are willing to reach out to help one another in a disaster. On a single Facebook group, there's a Mexican restaurant in Oklahoma City promising free meals to first responders or people hit by the tornado; a mother a few hours' drive from Moore offering to open her door for children who might need a place to stay; a resident sharing a picture of a found dog and contact information for the owner to get in touch. Read More

Chaos Spills Online From Blasts at Boston Marathon

BY Nick Judd | Monday, April 15 2013

As of this writing, the most reliable reporting finds that 22 people are injured and two are dead in the wake of two blasts at the finish line of the Boston Marathon Monday afternoon. More can be quantified in Monday's tragedy, and in time the deluge of information might help understand how it happened. But for now, the best use of social media is to reconnect and reassure. Read More

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In China, Local Governments Play Whac-a-Mole With Taxi Apps

It seems these days that car-hailing apps exist only to give cities grief. In New York, car sharing start-ups like Lyft ignore labor, safety insurance laws and in China, the situation is no different except in one regard: taxi hailing apps in China are proliferating at a faster rate than in the U.S. In China, however, the taxi system is very much in its infancy and local Chinese governments are struggling to control the proliferation of new apps that flout the law. GO

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The Uncertain Future of India's Plan to Biometrically Identify Everyone

Since its launch in 2010, people in India have raised a number of questions and concerns about the Aadhaar card —formally known as Unique Identification (UID)— citing its effects on privacy rights, potential security flaws, and failures in functionality. GO

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