Google, Microsoft join government's disaster response program


People hit by storms and other disasters need more than food, clothes or shelter in the days following the unfortunate event. They also need access to working internet or cellular networks to find family and friends who (heaven forbid) might be missing or to get in touch with people who might be worried sick about them. Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) hopes to supply the need for tech-savvy volunteers who can help out in those situations. That's why it has launched the Tech Corps program and enlisted the help of several big-name companies in the industry, including Cisco Systems, Google, Intel and Microsoft.

These companies will not only provide volunteers with the skills to carry out tasks the Tech Corps needs to do, but also train others willing to help out. According to FEMA, the Tech Corps will be in charge of setting up temporary networks to bring back internet connectivity and enable telephone and radio communications in disaster areas. Some of the program partners have previous experience helping out in times of need, such as after the earthquakes in Nepal and Haiti, as well as during Hurricane Sandy. Hopefully, this initiative enables them to organize bigger disaster response operations.

According to Senator Ron Wyden, who first proposed the idea:

Tech Corps harnesses a deep well of technical expertise and private-sector manpower to make sure every resource is available immediately when disaster strikes. Information technology is often critical to saving lives, and this program ensures that red tape won't stand in the way of volunteer experts who can stand up temporary cell networks and Wi-Fi solutions that are so important in disaster areas. I'm hopeful today's partners are the first of many to sign up to work hand-in-hand with emergency responders to help craft more resilient and effective responses to future disasters.

[Image credit: AFP/Getty Images]