The revolution in texting, social networking, and crowdsourcing has enabled innovations such as the 4636 texting service, which is aiding the disaster relief efforts in Haiti by recruiting scores of volunteers to help translate messages that could mean the difference between life and death.
Another crowdsourcing initiative is CrisisCommons, which has organized thousands of volunteers to enhance the map of Haiti available on the open source OpenStreetMap site. Other projects CrisisCommons is spearheading include one to build a Craigslist-style "we need, we have" Web site to connect people offering resources to those that need them.
The proliferation of mobile communications infrastructure to the developing world has supported the emergence of new tools for using text messaging, run by relatively small organizations that can work fast using limited resources in difficult conditions. This places them in a pivotal position as facilitators of disaster relief. Individuals and organizations have been galvanized to collaborate via social networking media by the realization that large-scale activities can be coordinated through online networks.
From New Scientist
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