When a hurricane, earthquake, flood, or fire happens, we often see a tremendous number of people use Facebook and other social media to share information with friends and family to let each other know they are ok or seek help when they do not fare as well.
The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) sought to leverage these social connections on Facebook to enhance community and individual resilience in an emergency by connecting people with “Lifelines” before disaster strikes. Lifelines are friends you can count on and who agree to check on you in an emergency, supply you with shelter, food, or other necessities, or provide your social network with an update about your wellbeing if you can’t do it yourself.
After a thorough search of Facebook revealed a lack of personal preparedness apps, ASPR issued the Facebook Lifeline Application Challenge to bridge the gap. The goal of this challenge was to create emergency apps that would refine and better support this phenomenon, by providing emotional support to people’s networks and helping to keep traditional channels of communication open that are frequently overwhelmed during disasters and emergencies.
The contest produced two winning apps, called bReddi and Project: Lifeline which do more than allow users to identify lifelines. They also let users create and share personal preparedness plans, track the status of their Facebook friends in disaster-affected areas, and print cards with a snapshots of their preparedness plans to carry in their wallets.
Read more about these emergency kit mobile apps on PHE.gov.