Technology Helps Haiti Relief Efforts

We are constantly learning and adapting new ways to utilize technology as it advances, especially with regard to our main role as a web design company. It is from this perspective that I was pleased to hear technology helping with the tragic earthquake disaster in Haiti. The recent developments in social media and mobile phones have contributed, along with the more traditional communication avenues, to the rescue and relief efforts being made to assist Haiti in this state of emergency.

Television and radio announcements have helped in the past, and continue to do so. But the way newer technology can augment those efforts has been amazing.  A company called mGive facilitated the use of mobile phones and text messaging to generate donations for the American Red Cross. People can make a contribution by simply sending the text message HAITI to 90999. The donation amount was set at $10 and the amount would be reflected in the next bill from the cell phone service provider. Some companies are even making advance payment on those donations, before the individual bills have actually been paid. Wyclef Jean’s Yele foundation also used this technique, allowing the opportunity to donate a smaller amount, $5, by texting YELE to 501501. The National Football League encouraged donations to the Red Cross via text message during its playoff games which generated approximately $500,000 an hour.

This text message method allowed an easier payment solution than the traditional credit card or even more recent methods like Paypal. The old school media helped get the word out, but new media played a significant part as well. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter quickly spread the news about the ability to make text donations. Celebrities using these websites, often with millions of fans or followers, greatly contributed to this phenomenon. Additionally, people using twitter were able to give real time reports of developing stories.

A local franchise of Mellow Mushroom is using Facebook to promote an event scheduled for next Tuesday January 26th called “Hippies Helping Haiti” where a $10 donation will get you “a free beer, free munchies & a raffle ticket for a chance to win lots of goodies.”

A site called Crosspollinate is attempting to aggregate all these new media information and a search for “Haiti” will provide you with an onslaught of up to the minute information and communication from a number of sources.

While natural disasters are tragic, it is exciting to know that recent developments in technology are doing their part to aid in supporting humans in need.