White House Administration Gives “Innovation For Disasters” Movement An Online Presence

The launch of disasters.data.gov was the unveiling of the first in a series of Innovator Challenges that highlight pressing needs from the disaster preparedness community.
White House Innovation For Disasters Movement
A screenshot from the new disasters.data.gov web portal. The portal shows you where in the U.S. there is a disaster declaration.|Photo by disasters.data.gov

In an effort to strengthening the Nation’s resilience to disasters, the White House Administration launched disasters.data.gov on December 15, 2014 as part of the “Innovation for Disasters” movement .

First previewed at the White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Initiative Demo Day,disasters.data.gov is designed to be a public resource to foster collaboration and the continual improvement of disaster-related open data, free tools, and new ways to empower first responders, survivors, and government officials with the information needed in the wake of a disaster.

According to www.whitehouse.gov, the White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Initiative was launched by the Administration in response to Hurricane Sandy to find the most effective ways for technology to empower survivors, first responders, and all levels of government with critical information and resources. Disasters.data.gov is the Initiative’s first major online presence.

The launch on Dec. 15 was the unveiling of the first in a series of Innovator Challenges that highlight pressing needs from the disaster preparedness community. The inaugural Innovator Challenge focused on a need identified from firsthand experience of local emergency management, responders, survivors, and Federal departments and agencies. The challenge asked innovators across the nation: “How might we leverage real-time sensors, open data, social media, and other tools to help reduce the number of fatalities from flooding?”

In addition to this first Innovator Challenge, some other features of disasters.data.gov include:

  • “Types of Disasters” Landing Pages. Disasters take many forms. The disasters.data.gov portal brings together and categorizes open data sets, apps, and tools to make relevant resources easier to find.  Today, the site includes landing pages for Earthquakes, Floods, Hurricanes, Severe Winter Weather, Tornadoes, and Wildfires. More categories and content will be added as the website expands.
  • Apps & Tools. The portal includes an initial set of apps and tools that can be deployed at minimal cost by first responders, emergency managers, volunteer organizations, survivors, and other stakeholders. The apps and tools featured include sharing economy platforms, crowdsourcing options, and services to enable communications, contribute to a culture of preparedness, and alert the public.
  • Get Involved – Call to Data Stewards.To help empower the community with information that can improve community resilience, the Administration is working with stakeholders to open a series of disaster-related datasets from all levels of government and the private sector.
  • Get Involved – Join the “Innovation for Disasters” Movement. This feature of the portal allows tech entrepreneur, developer, hardware tinkerer, journalist, researcher, government official, first responder, or potential volunteer to join the Innovation for Disasters movement and get involved.

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