Foundation Revolutionizes Disaster Communications with Software Donation
Pangea Foundation merges the spirit of a nonprofit with the innovation of Silicon Valley. The foundation integrates enterprise-class software, visual analytics, and interactive web 2.0 technologies. Its efforts help to empower nonprofits to visualize and communicate the impact of their programs to the world.
In October of 2007, wildfires consumed southern California, and more than a million people were evacuated from their homes. Highways were closed as fires spread. Information about evacuation routes, shelters, and road closures changed by the minute.
Local nonprofit 211 San Diego is a key communication resource during times of disaster. Its call centers used a paper-based operations system. Every two hours volunteer call operators at five different locations received an updated paper binder. This binder included information provided by authorities, which the volunteers then communicated to the public who called 211 for help. However, this approach couldn't scale with a massive emergency, and call centers were stuck with two-hour-old information.
Pangea Foundation saw an immediate need and voluntarily began working on a custom-fit software solution for 211 San Diego. Using technologies from the Microsoft Donation Program through TechSoup, Pangea helped to transform the call center into a vibrant and scalable intelligence hub in a few days. Accurate information was now instantly accessible via a live connection to an SQL database. This software empowered 211 San Diego and its 1,200 volunteers to communicate real-time emergency information to the public. It linked people to vital resources, tracked services, and delivered to more than 120,000 households during the fires.
After the fires, Pangea made the software more robust and named it ReliefPoint. Pangea Foundation has since donated it to other emergency relief efforts. Relief during the 2008 Midwest floods, Hurricane Gustav, Hurricane Ike, the 2009 Santa Barbara fires, and the H1N1 influenza efforts all relied on ReliefPoint.