U.S. Readies For Hurricane Irene Via Facebook

As Hurricane Irene bears down on the southeast U.S., government agencies and disaster relief groups are including Facebook in their readiness plans for natural disasters and other potential hazards.

This week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced a contest challenging software developers to create new Facebook applications that would help people prepare for emergencies and get support from friends and family after an emergency strikes — from personal medical emergencies to natural or man-made disasters.

The ASPR Lifeline Facebook Application Developer Challenge coincides with National Preparedness Month in September and continues through the end of hurricane season on November 4, 2011.

The winning person or team person receives $10,000 from HHS. Second place will get $5,000, and third place will receive $1,000. More importantly, the top developer will also start working with the U.S. government and Facebook immediately to get the application launched in a matter of weeks.

The issue of disaster preparedness will also be addressed during the next Facebook D.C. Live discussion on tomorrow Wednesday at 3 p.m.Eastern Standard Time. Speaking on the panel are:

The topic? What else but the role social media can play before, during, and after a natural disaster. The Red Cross will also share new data about how social media channels are being used during disasters and other major events during the live-streamed discussion.

Participants can post questions on the Facebook D.C. Live wall.

What do you think of Facebook’s increasing role in sharing information before, during and after crises?

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