Tech groups pitch in for Haiyan support
MANILA, Philippines - In the week since Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck the Philippines, there's been an outpouring of support from nations and charitable organizations.
Technology lets users create a wide net of influence for social good, and as a result, more people are taking out their virtual wallets and tapping on apps to help Filipinos get back on their feet.
Tech companies, parts of the Reddit community, and a host of other groups are joining in the Haiyan relief effort, chipping in resources and bringing attention to the devastation suffered by parts of the country in the Visayas region. Here's a running list of existing efforts to make a difference after Haiyan.
Little changes, big impact
Mozilla and Google have made small changes to the Firefox browser and the Google homepage, respectively, to boost the signal for Haiyan relief.
When starting up Firefox and reaching the Mozilla Firefox Start page, users will notice a appeal to Firefox users to donate to the Red Cross for Haiyan relief. On Google’s side, Google.com.ph has an information page linked below its search bar, aggregating worldwide news as well as aid information for people online.
Facebook and Tumblr have also gone on the aid offensive, with Facebook subtly bringing up a prompt on top of a user's newsfeed to donate to Haiyan relief and Tumblr staff making a blogpost to inform Tumblr users of the need for relief goods and donations to help the Philippines.
Information and aid
Microsoft’s initiative for relief is to provide technology to people responding on the ground. According to a post on the company’s TechNet blog, it has updated its HelpBridge app "to call out opportunities for those in the US who wish to donate via text-to-give to response organizations providing relief to communities impacted by Typhoon Haiyan.” The company has also donated money and 400 Microsoft Office licenses to support the operations of NGO consortium NetHope in its relief effort.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) provider Esri has come out with a number of readily available maps for responders and those online to better understand the situation in affected parts of the Philippines.
Users of online cryptocurrency system Bitcoin were also able to send aid to the Philippines. In a pair of posts, Fr33Aid was able to raise at least US$3,600 for relief goods purchases that would be sent to affected areas.
DealGrocer has a funding drive for aid, matching every P500 donation to its relief page with a P250 contribution.
AidMatrix, a supply chain software developer for relief organizations, is also using its systems to provide information for those looking to give goods and aid and those who are requesting for specific goods or resources.
For its part, GrabTaxi announced that it would facilitate donations via pickups using the service. Users can "book a taxi with 'GrabTaxi Philippines' or 'Loyola Plans Consolidated Inc' as drop-off point and type in #grabanddonate on the notes section, and our friendly kuya driver will pick up your donations for FREE and have them dropped off at our office."
Communications and applications
A number of different announcements have been made by communications providers.
NBC News is reporting that AT&T and Verizon have call or text message allowances from the US to the Philippines. In a press release, AT&T also announced a donation to AmeriCares for support to the Philippines.
Viber announced the "Viber Out" expansion to its calling service, allowing Filipino users to call family and friends abroad that aren't using viber just by tapping a button on the app. Line is selling a sticker set for Haiyan relief. RebTel users can redeem a voucher for 30 minutes of free calls to the Philippines till November 18. Users of textPlus can call landline or mobile numbers to the Philippines for free.
The Open Garden Foundation responded to a call for assistance from the Office of the President of the Philippines by offering the Open Garden app to help those in affected areas with some connection to the Internet to share the app via bluetooth and gain and maintain a connection. Below is a video explaining how to share the app and use the app to connect to the Internet.
The Reddit community
A number of Reddit communities, called subreddits, have also put up notices for relief, and subreddit members are contributing in various ways.
The subreddit /r/Philippines has set up a dedicated page for information dissemination and volunteerism efforts.
Meanwhile, the /r/worldnews and /r/circlejerk subreddits have set up separate donation posts on their front pages for Doctors Without Borders and have currently gotten over $3,500 in donations from around the world.
Lastly, the gaming subreddit for League of Legends, /r/LeagueOfLegends, is hosting a charity gaming livestream to raise funds for Haiyan relief. More information is available on the charity livestream thread.
Whether it’s a tiny change to homepage code or a donation of technology to relief teams, every bit of support towards Haiyan relief goes a long way.
If you know more tech-based or online initiatives helping to bring aid or support to the Philippines, feel free to list the info in the comments and Rappler will update this list periodically. - Rappler.com
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