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Intel Shows Why Tech is Essential to Disaster Response

The Intel Developers Forum officially starts tomorrow, but there are already plenty of things going on today. First up is a look at the role technology plays in disaster preparedness. Along with a rising number of weather-related catastrophes, there's been more focus on how technology can be used to facilitate communication among aid workers, broadcast messages to disaster victims, and ultimately get the stricken area or country back on track.

The main theme among the speakers was that preparedness from all parties who might possibly be afflicted—from governments to small businesses to citizens— is essential. One of the easiest things that businesses and individuals can do is to back up their data and information to an offsite location. For individuals, that's as easy as backing up data to the cloud.

Frank Schott, global program director for NetHope, spoke about the role technology played after the earthquake and subsequent cholera outbreak in Haiti in 2010. NetHope's mission is to provide communication and collaboration among international humanitarian agencies.

After the earthquake, traditional connectivity methods were out of service, so NetHope worked with Intel to deploy Intel Atom-powered mobile access points in order to provide mobile broadband connections to Haiti via a shared satellite solution. Additionally, this connectivity allowed the Red Cross to send out mass SMS alerts to Haitians with the locations of cholera clinics so that people could get tested and receive treatment. The Red Cross accomplished this by the tenth day after the earthquake in Port au Prince. Since the earthquake, the donated 25 Mbps bandwidth has been turned over to Haitian ISPs to keep the country connected as rebuilding continues.