SMS is emerging as the communications technology best suited to help victims of the Haiti earthquake.
Clickatell, in partnership with its customer Ushahidi, is expanding the call for assistance for the victims of the Haiti earthquake, emergency services deployed to assist those in crisis, as well as all the men and women that are volunteering in Haiti.
As the world rallies around a country in crisis, it is important that recovery initiatives are expedited; and SMS alerts are being used as the communications platform of choice to coordinate initiatives, share information, organize processes, and gather and disburse significant information.
Anyone can visit http://haiti.ushahidi.com to see a visual map of the activities and incidents in the region, submit incident reports via the website directly, or send and receive text messages about the situation and needs in Haiti.
Clickatell customer Ushahidi, a citizen-reporting platform, is working with a number of organisations in Haiti and around the world including the US Department of State, United Nations, Frontline SMS, International Network of Crisis Mappers, mobile carriers, Red Cross, EIS and InSTEDD among others.
The system tracks data gathered from people on the ground while teams of specialists work to ensure that incoming information is accurate and filtered appropriately so decisive action can be taken. An SMS shortcode, 4636, has been introduced to speed the process. This SMS alerts service is only available in Haiti and is free of charge. People can use it to report developments as they happen to aid relief efforts.
Thanks to the ubiquity and availability of SMS – even with damaged infrastructure – people are able to stay in contact to communicate to volunteers, convey information about the location of food and medical supplies, and SMS alert those looking for missing persons when information has been discovered.
“The SMSs being sent and received are vital at this time, and, of course, time is of the essence," says Pieter de Villiers, CEO of Clickatell. "People have lost loved one’s and support needs to be provided immediately to those on the ground dealing with the realities of the situation. Sometimes a matter of 5 minutes can make or break a person’s survival and spirit working in this environment. Not only can text messages get there, they get there fast."