Help Haiti disaster relief efforts... with technology

We're all still stunned by the huge 7.0 earthquake in Haiti; our hearts go out to the people affected by the disaster. But how can we help, and what help is technology? In IT Blogwatch, bloggers count the ways.

By Richi Jennings. January 15, 2010.

Your humble blogwatcher selected these bloggy morsels for your enjoyment. Not to mention a typing test in reality...

    Ina Fried tells us about the tech companies pitching in:

Google has pledged $1 million. ... Microsoft has said it will give up to $1.25 million in cash and in-kind donations, as well as match employee contributions. ... Apple has set up a donation mechanism within iTunes, ... a campaign by the Red Cross and the cellular industry to raise money via text message donations has pulled in more than $4 million. ... T-Mobile ... [is] waiving charges for subscribers trying to reach loved ones in Haiti as well as roaming charges for subscribers that may be in Haiti. ... Verizon's foundation is also donating $100,000 and matching employee donations.

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The Intel Foundation is offering to match personal donations ... while AMD said it will match donations of time or money by workers. ... Goddady.com said it is donating $500,000. ... Symantec is donating $50,000 to CARE, and is also matching worker donations. ... Salesforce.com, meanwhile, is matching public donations made via a special Web site up to $100,000.

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 Geoffrey A. Fowler adds:

A Web site called Haitian Earthquake Registry allows people to register and look for missing friends and relatives. ... Companies including Intel, Cisco and Microsoft help support NetHope, an organization that works with 17 different relief groups. ... Skype ... is sending vouchers ... to every Skype user already registered in Haiti – enough to make an hour’s worth of calls to the U.S. ... Amazon.com added a donation box to its homepage for contributions to Mercy Corps.

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The Yele Foundation has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars with a campaign based around people texting ‘Yéle’ to 501501 to donate $5. ... The American Red Cross has a similar campaign, in which you text the word ‘Haiti’ to 90999 to donate $10.
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Liz Gannes loves those text message donations but hopes they speed up:

The immediacy of texting makes it incredibly easy for those following the quake from afar to show their support by adding a small amount to their cell phone bills (especially in the U.S., where the two major campaigns are based). ... [But] it’s standard practice in the young mobile giving industry for donations to be delayed by 90 days. ... That’s eons in disaster recovery time.

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Earlier today mGive posted to Twitter, “We are currently working with the carriers to reduce this window.” ... Verizon — which like most carriers is waiving SMS fees for Haiti donations — [said] “We understand the need to get this money into the pipeline ASAP and we’re looking at ways to do that.” ... Sounds like a plan. C’mon carriers — let’s get cracking!
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And it's not just tech companies, writes Nathaniel Vinton:

At 4:53 p.m. Wednesday, the more than 16,000 Facebook fans of Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Pierre Garcon got a short message from him on their pages, thanking them in advance for donating to the Haitian relief effort, and providing a link.

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It may not match the phenomenal fundraising success that hip-hop star Wyclef Jean has directed on Haiti's behalf through his own Twitter account this week (twitter.com/wyclef has 1.3 million followers), but Garcon and other athletes are taking the initiative. ... Fans can follow Garcon on Twitter at http://twitter.com/showtimeP85, or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/PierreGarcon.
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Ian Paul brings satellite imagery, via Google:

Google responded to the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti earlier this week by working with satellite imagery company GeoEye to quickly make images of the destruction available in Google Earth and Google Maps. The images were taken at approximately 10:27 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, and could prove to be a helpful tool for aid organizations.

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If you are planning to make a donation to Haitian relief efforts, be advised the FBI is warning users to watch out for bogus charities, and security firm Symantec has noted that e-mail scams pleading for assistance have begun to surface.
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Mozilla's Daniel Einspanjer plots a sobering graph:

The Mozilla community includes thousands of people in Haiti, and in our metrics, we can see the hole this disaster has left in our community. The chart below shows Firefox usage in Haiti this week. ... This picture is not pretty and it suggests that much of the communications infrastructure within Haiti has been adversely affected.

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Everyone in Haiti could use our thoughts and help, and we’d like to put out a personal plea to the Mozilla family to consider these members of our community and donate if you can.
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But Michael Horowitz urges caution:

Someone came to me yesterday worried that their computer was infected with viruses. It wasn't, but they had almost been victimized by a scam that piggybacked on the disaster in Haiti. As they say, no good deed goes unpunished. ... When the good Samaritan clicked on the link ... a warning appeared on their computer that it was infected with viruses. At this point, I was called and suggested they shut down the computer immediately. No surprise, the warning turned out not to be true.

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In the end, the person who called me was saved by their skepticism. Unfortunately, they had learned their lesson the hard way, haven't been burned by an earlier phony warning of a virus infection.
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Your humble blogwatcher realizes that people in the UK also read this twaddle, so he retweets himself:

Help Haiti in UK: Disaster Emergency Committee... 13 UK based aid agencies working together http://dec.org.uk (via @sublimelouise).
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So what's your take?

Get involved: leave a comment.

    And finally...

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher
  Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him as @richi on Twitter, or richij on FriendFeed, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: itblogwatch@richij.com.

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