Today our cities are not just economic engines of growth, but the places where we live, we work, where our families call home.
Despite our best efforts, a crisis--whether an earthquake, a fire, a hurricane, a heat wave, or a terrorist attack--can arrive at any time. While we cannot always prevent such emergencies, we can always prepare for them.
CityAlert is a new platform that harnesses the power of technology and the interconnectedness of our cities and their citizens to provide an immediate, novel way of organizing disaster response. Our aim is to equip governments and their citizens to react quickly when confronted with a crisis, offer open lines of communication driven by technology, and ensure that people are able to reach safety.
CityAlert was launched in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, a devastating 2012 storm that affected much of the east coast of the United States and knocked out power, destroyed homes, and created a humanitarian crisis in the New York metropolitan area.
With power outages, local government was unable to issue warnings about unsafe conditions to city residents. The generosity of people who sought to help their fellow New Yorkers was often wasted when incorrect information spread about the areas in need and the requisite supplies (blankets, canned food, etc.). Elderly and poor residents remained sick or injured in their homes for days, without being able to contact neighbors or authorities.
Our aim is to equip cities and their citizens to harness the tools most of us use daily--GPS, photos, text messaging--to crowdsource information so that authorities can sift through the latest developments and formulate a response that can be quickly communicated to residents to help them reach safety and the supplies they need.