Thursday, June 07, 2012

HHS Facebook Preparedness App launched!

Winning applications from HHS Facebook challenge go live
New applications support personal preparedness for hurricanes and
other emergencies

Two new free personal preparedness applications go live on Facebook
today, as hurricane season begins, to help people support each other
during an emergency and become better prepared by identifying
lifelines. Lifelines are Facebook friends a user can count on, and who
agree to check on them in an emergency, supply them with shelter,
food, or other necessities, or provide the user's social network with
an update about their situation.

"After disasters, a tremendous number of people use Facebook to post
and share information, so developing a Facebook app that would help
people establish social connections they'll need in an emergency
seemed like a natural way to enhance community and individual
resilience," explained Dr. Nicole Lurie, assistant secretary for
preparedness and response, Health and Human Services, and a rear
admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service.

The two apps, bReddi and Project: Lifeline, do more than allow users
to identify lifelines. They also let users create and share personal
preparedness plans, and track the status of their Facebook friends in
disaster-affected areas. Both apps achieve the goals of helping
families and friends to plan more easily, being better prepared when a
disaster strikes, and more reliably and efficiently getting the word
out about each others' health and safety.

This capability means people can more easily learn whether their loved
ones are safe, helping the people affected by the disaster and those
searching for missing people. The apps also allow users to print cards
with a snapshots of their preparedness plans to carry in their wallets
as quick references about what to do when a disaster strikes.
??Both apps can be accessed through the ASPR website
www.phe.gov/lifeline/ or directly through Facebook.

"The question is, who can you count on in an emergency and who can
count on you?" Dr. Lurie said. "We know that people who have friends
or relatives they can rely on for help are healthier and live longer
than those who don't, and that every disaster has the potential to
impact health, so having people you can depend on for help is
especially important during a disaster. That's why we are encouraging
everyone to identify their lifelines in advance."

These apps were winners of a challenge sponsored by the HHS Office of
the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR). It was
the first challenge for a Facebook application to be sponsored by the
department.

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 challenge called on software
application developers, entrepreneurs, social networking enthusiasts,
members of the public health and emergency response communities to
design new Facebook applications that would support individual and
community resilience.

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