When a disaster strikes, chances are that you wish to get in touch with your loved ones. To make this simpler, Microsoft is turning virtual connections into ad-hoc disaster network aid. Yesterday, the company unveiled a new app powered by Windows Azure called ‘HelpBridge’ for Windows, iOS and Android platforms. As one can judge by the name, HelpBridge acts as a communication channel or a lifeline tool which enables smartphone users to notify their loved ones through email, SMS or can even post a message on Facebook Timeline in case of any disaster strike and those alerts can include your current location as well.
HelpBridge also lets users to create and save a list of your family and friends contacts in your smartphone to whom you want to send emergency alerts. This app can same time, lifes of many people at the time of any natural disaster that surrounds an emergency at large scale. Microsoft’s Disaster Response team’s CTO, Tony Surma is encouraging the users to give few minutes in installing the app which can act as a life saving tool for many.
“When disasters occur, the first thing people who were impacted want to do is to reach friends and family,” said James Rooney, program manager for Microsoft Citizenship’s Technology for Good program, in a statement today. Rooney also noted that while technology was instrumental in helping people connect with friends, family and relief efforts after the recent disasters in Haiti and Japan, those efforts were very specific to the disaster region and quickly become obsolete in the time after the disaster.
Check out the demo video of HelpBridge on Windows Phone 8:
Taking Twitter’s popularity into the account in these type of emergency situations, we are surprised that Microsoft haven’t included Twitter service to this application. Facebook makes sense as it is a largest social networking platform of the world and even Microsoft is having close relationship with the company. We can anticipate the inclusion of Twitter service in the next app update.
This is only one side of the app,Microsoft has also collaborated with many companies including Network for Good,VolunteerMatch, Mobile Giving Foundation,GuideStar and Aidmatrix to make it easier for people to help others in any emergency. This app will also enable sending of a message to donate money in the relief funds or can even donate handsome amount through PayPal. You can even use this application to find agencies that are accepting goods like Food or other essentials. Even volunteering opportunities(in your city or country wide) can also be searched in real time posted by various relief agencies.
“HelpBridge could be a simple way to bump up donations or help people find new volunteer opportunities. If we can direct consumers to give easily, that’s really what it’s all about,” added James Rooney.
This is Microsoft’s very first attempt in this area. However, few years back the company also introduced a similar type of broadcasting system app but no one knows what happened to this project.
The app can be downloaded rightly from Google Play and Windows Phone store but sadly, this app is available in the US only and hopefully, Microsoft will make this app available in other countries soon. If you are in an area frequently hit by natural disasters, this application is worth to be downloaded.