When a disaster of this magnitude strikes, our impulse is to help in some way. Like many people, I donated both on the Web and for the first time via text to the Red Cross. For a more details about the SMS fundraising results, see this this detailed report on the SMS fundraising campaign from MobileActive and yesterday's article in the New York Times from Stephanie Strom.
But beyond giving, many of us want to help, particularly techies. As Michaela Hackner points out:
There is at least one good news story emerging around the world about this devastating crisis: technology is changing the playing field.
Sure, technology isn't necessarily air-dropping supplies and ferrying in doctors, but it's raising millions of dollars, helping the right people connect where they're needed, and making all of us distinctly aware that something horrible is happening and needs our attention. It's also helping all of us who feel helpless, nestled in our homes in the developed world, contribute to the cause and see immediate impact.
Geoff Livingston, my colleague at Zoetica, has a post in Mashable today on Five Social Media Lessons from the Haiti Earthquake Relief. He describes how with the widespread adoption of social media in the non-profit sector, people’s ability to act and support communities in need like Haiti has only been increased.
Here's some specific examples of how, if you're a techie, you can find ways to donate your technical expertise or time to Haiti or some of the many ways techies are helping out:
The Crisis Commons facilitates partnerships and maintains a network of technology volunteers to respond to specific needs in times of crisis. People work on projects based on their skills and interests to create technological tools and resources for responders to use in mitigating disasters and crises around the world. Here you will find opportunities to donate your tech skills to Haiti.
Ushahidi, a crisis mapping platform, has been providing updates on its work crowdsourcing information on the ground. Erik Hersman shared a post this morning with some of the success stories from their "4636," an emergency short code.
The Extraordinaries have pioneered the concept of "micro volunteering" that allows people to complete micro-tasks for organizations or efforts passionate about, using a mobile phone or web browser, in a few minutes of spare time. They have created a Haiti support page to harness the power of the crowd to help locate and identify missing persons with just a few minutes of your time.
There are two micro volunteering opportunities:
The Image Tagger — Sort through news photos coming out of Haiti and categorize (tag) them with keywords like “adult, child, alive, deceased.” Never before has there been a system that can bring together thousands of photos from across the web and have them sorted by live human beings (no computer could ever know that there is a teenager in a photo).
The Matcher — We’ve engineered a system that matches faces of missing people to faces in photos coming from Haiti. The goal is to help desperate families find their loved ones. Volunteers use the matcher to look for a missing person in images that have been
tagged with the image tagger.
Ben Rigby, Co-Founder, recently left a comment on a post I wrote about nonprofit