Mobile Tech Helping Hurricane Relief Efforts

October 13, 2017 - 3 minutes read

Image Source: Lockheed Martin

Deep down inside, mobile technology creators want to believe that they’re contributing value to the world. Mobile app developers want you to feel secure and in-control when using their interface. E-commerce app designers make the process of purchasing something as simple as possible. But as recent events have shown, mobile technology can serve a more profound purpose — it can aid with hurricane rescue and disaster relief efforts.

Hurricane Harvey claimed the lives of 71 victims and caused damage that will cost billions of dollars to fix. Greg Sadetsky could not sit by and let this happen. Utilizing his mapping software engineering expertise, Sadetsky made a mapping app that showed rescue teams the highest priority areas.

During the storm, Sadetsky kept in contact with rescue teams in Houston through the Zello walkie-talkie app while adding more than 40 features to his mobile technology. The Coast Guard used Sadetsky’s software on more than 700 rescue and disaster relief missions. It resulted in the rescue of more than 1,700 people.

Zello had 20 times more users in Houston after Hurricane Harvey compared to the week prior. It reached the number one spot in app stores during the days leading up to Hurricane Irma’s contact with the United States. But Floridians were not the only ones trying to learn from Hurricane Harvey.

The Boston mobile app developers of GasBuddy were racing to pivot the purpose of their app. Usually used for finding cheap gas, GasBuddy is invaluable on road trips. During this hurricane season, GasBuddy helped evacuating groups identify which gas stations were out of gas or lost electricity. Florida Governor Rick Scott praised the app company’s immense help during the state’s time of crisis.

Similar to Sadetsky’s efforts, amateur satellite imagery analysts show Hurricane Irma disaster relief workers where they are needed most. The Takor Group also made Mappt, their mapping app, free for organizations helping with rescue efforts. And of course, many organizations are taking donations through mobile apps.

It’s hard to stomach all of the damage caused by the recent hurricanes. But one glimmer of hope shining through all of the darkness is that more people are starting to recognize the immense benefits that mobile technology can bring to disaster relief. With more innovation aimed towards helping out with natural disasters, hopefully, more lives can be saved.

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