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Innovation Almanac: Social Networking for Disaster Prep

Disaster prep 101 is "Love thy neighbor."

Feeling guilty about not having bought yourself an earthquake preparedness kit? You should—and you should. But a new project from the Bay Area’s grandfather of innovation companies, IDEO (creators of Apple’s first mouse, among many other seriously nifty things), may make the prospect a little less daunting. It’s kind of like “disaster preparation meets social network.”

Being prepared is “about more than having a red backpack full of supplies,” says project manager, Kate Lydon. “It’s about being connected to your community.” So the company, in partnership with the Department of Emergency Management, has come up with a plan. In the coming months, we can expect the release of ShareSF, an app where people can pledge goods and skills that they would be willing to provide to one another in the event of a disaster. (They can also use it for non-emergency purposes as well.)

And, if the city commits to IDEO’s full proposal, we might see the construction of neighborhood beacons that could serve as emergency wifi hotspots, water dispensaries, and impromptu gathering places.

“It’s about encouraging people to build up their network,” says Lydon. “Because the person you lend a cup of sugar to today is the same person who will tell you that your house is on fire tomorrow.”


Read More of Our Innovation Almanac:
Stanford's Benign Mind Control
The Forever Clock
Bacteria Mapper
Fire Station Health Care

Cree: Building the Future
No More Double Clicking
A Friendlier Vibrator
Social Networking for Disaster Prep


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