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Microsoft Software

New Microsoft App To Coordinate Disaster-Relief Efforts 69

Posted by timothy
from the it-just-plays-marco-polo dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft on Wednesday launched a new mobile app powered by Windows Azure called HelpBridge that lets you both ask for help after a natural disaster, as well as offer to give it. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the launch is an excellent initiative to rally everyone around one cause: supporting each other during a time of need. You can download the app right now from the Google Play Store, the Apple App Store, and the Windows Phone Store. Unfortunately, it's only available in the US right now, but hopefully Microsoft will be expanding regional support soon."
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New Microsoft App To Coordinate Disaster-Relief Efforts

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  • by ericbrow (715710) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @06:23PM (#42620947) Journal
    How will this help if all power, all hotspots, and all cell towers are down? There were dead spots during hurricane Sandy .
  • The reviews are pitiful on the iOS app. Except for the one paid of course;)
  • by Press2ToContinue (2424598) * on Thursday January 17, 2013 @06:24PM (#42620953)

    I hope this app has a more foolproof way of preventing false signals.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Maybe they can save the Ballmer's job with this new app

  • help help! (Score:1, Troll)

    by roc97007 (608802)

    Help!-bluescreen-crap-reboot-Help!-bluescreen-Crap!-reboot-Help!-bluescreen-CRAP!-reboot

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The natural disasters are managed on the artificial disaster known as the Windows Phone.
  • ... not a single one is compatible with that app.
  • What a great thing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by frovingslosh (582462)
    What a great thing it is that Microsoft is launching a program to let people say "give-me give-me give-me" when they build in a flood plane but don't want to bother to buy flood insurance. After all, they needed to money that they could have spent on flood insurance to pay for their fancy smart phone to run the app. And at least we will not be pestered by the truly needy, since they are the ones who don't have smartphones.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      ... when they build in a flood plane but don't want to bother to buy flood insurance. After all, they needed to money that they could have spent on flood insurance to pay for their fancy smart phone to run the app...

      That's a very cynical view; insurance policies are much trickier than that. For example, the "anti-concurrent causation clause", which states that "if you have two events happen at the same time, one that is covered and the other that is not covered by the policy, the insurance company doesn't have to pay for either. So if your house has damage from wind, which is covered by your policy, and it also has damage from a flood, which is not covered, the insurance company doesn't have to pay for either the wind

      • by Rogerborg (306625)
        Nope, all I'm hearing is still "built in a flood plain, got flooded, gimme gimme gimme".
        • Can you name a major city not in a flood plain?
          • by lxs (131946)

            Zurich?

          • Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, Chicago, Seatle ......

            • Bzzzz. Incorrect.

              Most of Chicago and surrounding suburbia is in a flood plane from the Des Plaines and Salt Creek rivers. I know, I live near there - but on relatively high ground so I don't get my basement flooded every time there is a two-day rainfall like my neighbors.

              Not sure about the others, but you never know...

            • You'll note that those are all relatively new cities (even though you're wrong about Chicago, and probably Seattle). Older cities were built near rivers, on flood plains, because that's where they needed to be for shipping, food, and a clean water source. Even now these things are pretty important. Los Angeles wouldn't exist without a completely diverted river, for instance.
  • by bogaboga (793279) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @06:40PM (#42621083)

    Unfortunately, it's only available in the US right now, but hopefully Microsoft will be expanding regional support soon."

    Making the app available in jurisdictions other than the US is a no brainer to me. If I am a company, all I want is to make as much dough as I can. So why would a company restrict availability of a product to a selected market at the outset; if making it available to a larger customer base is a matter of coding?

    I have done it on behalf of my small startup which unfortunaltely, was aquired and the new owner discountinued the product. But for a number of customers outside the USA, our products were good. And we sold them without any support. Cusomers [still] bought. We made about 19% of our sales this way. Now Microsoft launches an app and makes it only availabe to those in the USA.

    Why do companies do this? Let the customer purchase the product at his/her own risk. They will still buy - I mean some.

    • So put one up in YOUR COUNTRY. Microsoft is primarily a US company and for this app to be any use, your local government would have to coordinate with Microsoft. This is bleeding edge new, and probably doesn't even have anybody "listening" over 95% of the USA... In the EU they would have to have warranty and staffing or get accused of "false advertising" you can't just "float an idea" like this without massive government intervention... So Microsoft isn't even going to let you try it.

      • by s.petry (762400)

        Yeah, and be sued into deeper than Cambodian turd farmer poverty because M$ has taken patents out on every aspect of this prior to release in every space imaginable.

    • by westlake (615356)

      So why would a company restrict availability of a product to a selected market at the outset; if making it available to a larger customer base is a matter of coding?

      Because it is never just a "matter of coding?"

      When you are as big as Microsoft you need to understand the language, the culture, the law, politics, and economics of every market you enter.

      Your small startup doesn't have a global presence and accountability. Your mistakes do not make headlines.

      In truth you are all but invisible and almost certainly judgment-proof.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://crisismappers.net/

    OpenStreetMap, Ushahidi, Sahana ... in Haiti and in New York
    M$ft, you innovate nothing

    • Mod parent up please. Lots of these apps have been around for a while, and some of them are open source and usable. The government integration would be useful, but really the key is just getting everyone using the same thing. Random Hacks of Kindness has spent some time on this field also.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    yeah. good luck with that.

  • Unless the app can turn your phone into more of a p2p network where everyone would be connected all at ones using wifi turning all phones into towers themselves for people to connect to and share what info they need to.
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Thats the key :) How long does your average suburban tower last without power? All the zoning, building codes, permits, environmental rules, costs, shareholders vs the FCC?
      "A spokesman for the FCC said the agency will look at whether to require backup power."
      http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/11/18/sen-schumer-cell-towers-should-have-backup-power-to-prevent-widespread-service-outages-like-after-sandy/ [cbslocal.com]
      It was to be 8h min of backup electric power at most cell sites but that was lost in the need for more
      • by orophite (1567429)
        I wonder what the costs involved would be to have backup power generators for each of the towers. I think it would be more cost effective to have people with mobile phones as walking towers then having a tower run for X amount of time and then you lost your connection. Not sure if either method would pan out though in the great scheme of things. I guess you'll know what method would work best ones your facing a disaster scenario first hand.
  • by StevisF (218566) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @07:39PM (#42621519)

    It seems incredibly stupid to me not to just use the web. Why limit it to people who just have a device of a certain OS? Oh right, making money.

  • What type of disaster? Are they referring to the BSOD?

  • by Flytrap (939609) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @08:04PM (#42621695)
    I think that a Microsoft app aimed at coordinating disaster-relief efforts is going to be a... disaster!
  • Invalid Disaster. Replace Disaster and try again.
  • by wonkavader (605434) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @10:10PM (#42622499)

    We're going to die.

  • I think they should try to use it to coordinate their own disasters first, maybe then Microsoft will start to suck a bit less?

  • Hmm, a MS app to help with disaster relief? I can't think of a common analogy, but it seems a bit like hiring a bull to restock a china shop after another bull trashes it. Or maybe there is something about a pot and a kettle, I don't know.
  • http://sahanafoundation.org/ [sahanafoundation.org]

    I applaud Microsoft's effort, but part of me thinks this might be more about PR than a genuine attempt to save lives.

  • As a few others have noted, there are a few sites out there (e.g., Google's crisis response [google.org] and Sahana [sahanafoundation.org]) that seek to match people in need with responders.

    If this were any other application, I would argue that competition is good, but I fear that the fragmentation of services for disaster relief ultimately puts more lives at risk. Why doesn't Microsoft through its support & resources behind a well-established, widely-adopted system for collective disaster management? To provide yet another service t
  • After a series of small disasters in Australia and New Zealand, my previous employer tried to kick off a website to pair helpers with those requiring assistance. Several others popped up at the same time. There's nothing especially new about the idea; we were working on an android app at the same time. However, it would need a bit of policing to make sure idiots don't just sign up for free stuff.

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