Humanitarian Relief is a Text Message Away

Social sites like Twitter, Facebook part of Google's new venture
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 17, 2008 6:33 PM CST
This undated screen shot shows Twitter, a short-message social networking site. (AP Photo)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A Google-funded website that uses technology to spread the word about emergencies launches today, CNET reports. The company's charitable arm has put $5 million into InSTEDD, which will use social software like Twitter and Facebook to alert humanitarian groups to crises and organize rescue operations. “Social networking in the humanitarian space, that's something you're going to see,” InSTEDD’s CEO said.

Using Twitter technology, for example, InSTEDD’s software will allow a relief worker to send a text message about an outbreak; groups like UNICEF receive the post merged with a Google Earth locater and can notify him of nearby resources. Facebook could be used to network or mobilize or recruit “friends” for help. The epidemiologist who conceived the project hopes it will “make the world a safer place.”