Q&A: SF turns emergency prep into a social game

A new app called SF Heroes rewards people for preparing for disasters and emergencies.
Written by Boonsri Dickinson, Contributing Editor

When it comes to high tech solutions to improve the city, San Francisco is on the forefront. Earlier this month, The Summer of Smart conference brought together techies with government officials to create apps that could improve the functioning of the city and improve the lives of its residents.

After feeling two earthquakes in one day, an app like CosmiCube's disaster relief app looks not only enticing (but necessary). SF Heroes, which launched this week, is made by The City of San Francisco's Department of Emergency Management.

As app users prepare for an emergency, they will earn points and be awarded badges for their efforts and can share their emergency prep socially via Facebook or Twitter.

I spoke with Carla Riggi, founder of CosmiCube, about its SF Heroes app:

SmartPlanet: Why is the city of San Francisco interested in building a gaming app?

CR: SF Heroes represents a new approach toward motivating residents to be prepared. Traditional emergency messaging uses a "push" approach that relies on warnings and fear to motivate preparedness. In contrast, SF Heroes uses the "pull" approach of positive reinforcement, social incentives, and rewards to encourage people to motivate each other through healthy competition and measurable progress.

SmartPlanet: What does the app do? What problem is it fixing?

CR: SF Heroes reaches social influencers and provides an avenue for building direct relationships with members of the community. It's an easy way to comprehensively convey the city's resiliency initiatives directly to residences, and to motivate preparedness in the case of an emergency.

SmartPlanet: What kinds of disasters will it help people prepare for?

CR: The content is infinitely expandable. Presently SF heroes teaches earthquake response techniques, how to manage utilities in case of emergency, basic first aid tips and preparedness guidelines, and much more.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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