Empowering the Public During Emergencies

Imagine that a wildfire is approaching your house and you must evacuate. How do you find out what roads are open and your best route to safety? How do you find the location of the nearest center for evacuees?

Imagine that a major earthquake has struck the Bay Area. You've heard on the news that tap water is unsafe to drink in many areas. How do you find out if your water is safe? There is a critical need for people to donate blood. How do you find the closest place is to donate?

For this project, a Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SIE) team of students worked with government agencies, utilities, the Red Cross, and Google to explore new ways to provide answers to these questions. Their solution was to develop Google Sites templates, included in Google's initial gallery, that allow agencies to quickly set up emergency websites on Google's servers. These sites have already been used to handle emergency web traffic that overwhelmed agency servers.

The team developed two Google Sites templates: one for public health emergencies, such as a pandemic flu response; and the other for general "all hazard" emergencies, such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, or wildfires. Public information officers can edit the sites directly using a web browser to provide both text and map information.

Public Health Emergency

All Hazards Emergency


2010 Haiti Earthquake

SIE alum Luke Beckman joined InSTEDD and went to Haiti after the earthquake. Google and the team developed a web tool for those displaced by the earthquake to find one another. Below are some links about this and other efforts.

2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

The person finder software developed for the Haiti earthquake was deployed by Google for Japan after the earthquake and tsunami.