Mistakes were made during Hurricane Katrine - a lot of mistakes, mostly by government officials. While technology can't take the human error and hubris out of government, perhaps it can help the folks living in the affected region better help themselves. That's the goal of a peer-to-peer post-disaster response system, reports BBC News.
Dubbed iCare, the system circumvents centralized government agencies and directly matches donated goods or services to the specific items that survivors have asked for.
iCare also takes care of logistical problems such as making space more efficient on delivery trucks, which speeds up the time it takes to get goods to disaster-stricken areas. The system also can record maps of victims' locations, as well as the goods or services they have requested.
Anand Kulkarni and Ephrat Bitton, doctoral students at UC Berkeley, are developing the system. As envisioned, survivors report what they need via web terminals in aid centers or by text messaging from mobile phones. Requests are then routed to the companies, organizations or individuals that can provide exactly what they need.
"There's a massive desire on the part of the public to help after disasters, and they just need a good way to transform that desire into something tangible for the victims," said Mr Kulkarni.
The researchers were quite clear that this system was not intended to usurp existing aid agencies, but could supplement their endeavors.