REDMOND, Wash.--The ground-level conference room in Building 25 doesn't look much different than many others in buildings across Microsoft's sprawling campus.
It has a window, though most of the view is obscured by a large bush. It has the usual array of outlets and Ethernet jacks, screens, and projectors. During earthquakes and floods, hurricanes and tsunamis, though, this room is ground zero for Microsoft's emergency response effort.
Even then though, it can be hard to tell that somewhere halfway around the world, disaster has struck. That's because Microsoft's disaster team is a virtual one, … Read more
While many people have jobs at Microsoft that aim to avoid disasters, Gisli Olafsson's job is getting through them.
As a full-time disaster management specialist for the software maker, Olafsson works with the United Nations and other agencies to prepare before devastation hits and also to coordinate efforts once it does. Olafsson has been sent across the globe to deal with the aftermath of earthquakes and hurricanes, offering help in rebuilding the infrastructure that nature has wiped away.
But, that's only part of the reason Olafsson so often finds himself on the scene of natural calamities. A native … Read more
In the wake of the devastating 7.0 earthquake in Haiti, Twitter has been serving as a major hub of information, the Nielsen Company reports. Nielsen refers to preliminary analysis of data indicating that Twitter posts are the leading source of discussion about the quake, followed by online video, blogs, and other social media.
Although most online consumers still rely on traditional media for coverage of the quake, they are apparently turning to Twitter to share information, react to the situation, and rally support. Sysomos, an analytics firm in Toronto, estimated that nearly 150,000 posts containing both “Haiti” and “… Read more
The Web was flooded with people hunting for news updates on Tuesday and Wednesday following a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. People were also looking online for ways to help.
With envoys saying that much of the capital, Port-au-Prince, has been leveled and a death toll expected to run into the thousands, it was obvious early on that the catastrophe would require significant relief efforts on behalf of both governments and nonprofits.
These days, it's not a surprise anymore when much of the breaking news surrounding a natural disaster is … Read more
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo may be tough competitors when it comes to Internet software and services, but they are putting their differences aside to build a developer community to tackle bigger picture problems like saving lives in emergencies.
The companies have joined with NASA, the World Bank, and PR agency SecondMuse to organize the first-ever Random Hacks of Kindness event, which was held at a warehouse space-cum community center called Hacker Dojo this weekend. For two days, coders worked on ways to use technology to help solve real-world problems, such as how people can get information and … Read more
The launch of Apple's iPhone 3G S has justifiably caught the media's attention, what with its elegant design and speedy performance. But for all the noise that Apple is making in mobile, open source--not Apple--may well be doing the most to define the future of mobile communications, as two leading open-source projects suggest.
No, I'm not talking about the Palm Pre, with its Linux-based operating system and its new open-source applications portal. Nor am I referring to Google Android.
With a new product called Vine, Microsoft is tackling the issue that, in the Digital Age, contact management is no longer static--where you are and what you're doing at a given moment can matter just as much as what your cell phone number is. But instead of focusing on roving business travelers, Vine's slant is community management and emergency preparedness. It's in a private beta test right now.
Here's how it works. You download a "dashboard" application, and then you log in with your Windows Live account. Its interface takes the form of a … Read more
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is looking at using an internal (or private) cloud to manage disaster recovery.
In early testing, Joe Klosky, a senior tech adviser at the FDA, was able to successfully restart applications and services within 45 minutes onto other, differently configured servers in their environment without issues using Cassatt Active Response, not people or outsourced services.
Klosky notes:"An internal cloud approach means that we do not have to pay for costly service contracts with outsourcers, nor do we have to dedicate rooms full of servers to sit idly by just in case … Read more