Google and others have offered maps, resource lists, ways to find loved ones and other resources for those in natural and other disasters. Now Microsoft has an offering in the form of HelpBridge, a mobile phone app.
Available today [Jan 16] in the U.S. for Windows Phone, Android, and iOS, HelpBridge is designed to make it easy to connect with friends and family during a large-scale disaster such as an earthquake or a hurricane. It also enables users to give time, money and resources to support relief and rebuilding efforts.
Users build a list of those they'd need to contact with an "I'm safe" or "I need help" type message in such situations. When they occur, a single tap sends the message via SMS or other method to the group. A location can be included, too, using GPS data from the phone. There does not seem to be a provision for finding government or other resources.
Those who can give can provide funds to selected organizations, find exactly what types of goods are needed where, and see lists of volunteer opportunities.
The app grew out of a need for a generic app instead of one-off responses. Partners include Aidmatrix, GuideStar, Mobile Giving Foundation,Network for Good and VolunteerMatch.The challenge, I suppose, is getting individuals to install and pre-load the app with contact information before a disaster hits.