HHS wants app to turn Facebook friends into disaster lifelines
Agency offering $10,000 prize for creating best app using Facebook to boost preparedness
- By Alice Lipowicz
- Aug 10, 2011
The Health and Human Services Department wants a way to use
Facebook friendships to help people after a major
The department launched its “Lifeline Facebook App Challenge," which
asks teams of developers to create an application that would allow users
to seek help from at least three Facebook friends as “lifelines” during
a disaster and to use geolocational data and information-sharing
The goal is to “provide actionable steps for Facebook users” to help
them increase their personal and community preparedness, with the goal
of protecting public health and increasing community resilience
following a disaster, according to an Aug. 10 notice
in the Federal Register. The notice referred to disasters in a general
fashion, not specifically public health-related disasters.
Groups ready for disaster drill to use social media
Give the public a role in disaster response
Submissions are due by Sept. 15. Three winning teams will receive prizes of $10,000, $5,000 or $1,000.
The contest is being sponsored by HHS’ Office of the Assistant
Secretary for Preparedness and Response, which helps provide support
during public health emergencies. The contest itself was authorized
under the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010.
The goal of the competition is to create an application that makes use of Facebook's day-to-day communications to enhance the ability
for people to be prepared for disasters.
Entrants are required to develop an app that enables a Facebook user
to invite three Facebook friends to become "lifelines," or points of
contact who agree to act as a source of support during disasters.
“Entrants are encouraged to creatively leverage Facebook's existing
networking and geolocating capabilities to enhance the app's ability to
increase personal preparedness, locate potential disaster victims, and
streamline information sharing among social networks during disasters,”
the notice states.
Social media tools have become increasingly used before, during and
after major disasters such as the Haiti earthquakes, when victims
tweeted their positions in the rubble and survivors broadcast
information about cleared roads and fallen bridges.
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.