Google, Social Media Track Hurricane Sandy

If you haven’t heard about Hurricane Sandy by now, you’re probably completely disconnected from the world. The unique storm off the East Coast has been getting the kind of attention any business would dream of getting. Understandably, the attention is coming from the recognition that the storm could be one for the record books.

I, for one, have prepared more than any other time in my life. I don’t think I’ve gotten everything I need for days, but I’m hoping to rely on my two years of Peace Corps food rationing skills (had to make those goodies from home last a long time!) and experience with hours upon hours of no electricity to make it through this. I’ve got water, a full gas tank, extra food, and most importantly, all of my portable electronics are fully charged.

Meanwhile, other businesses and people are getting prepared and helping others gain as much information as possible. Google has taken a very interesting step today. They’ve decided to launch an interactive map concerning the storm. Social Media on the population-heavy East Coast has also helped spread information as millions prepare for the storm.

Google Now Does Hurricanes

According to Stan Schroeder at Mashable, “Google is helping those affected prepare for the storm with a dedicated crisis map.” Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall Google doing this before—at least not to this extent. To me, the idea is brilliant and meaningful. Google cancelled their Nexus launch event and instead released this interactive map, which is great. You can check out the detailed map at the Mashable link above.

Google has packed a great deal of useful information on the interactive map. You can follow the path of the storm, view affected areas and predictions, find important emergency locations, and much more. Schroeder also writes that “Google has also launched a special Sandy crisis map for New York City,” where you can find evacuation zones, shelter information, and much more. I’m really impressed with the effort behind Google’s maps. They’ve done the right and admirable thing to put their vast resources to use for a public service.

Everyone Helping Out

The BBC is also reporting that both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times have removed their paywalls. They hope to provide as much information to as many people as possible. But these two newspapers aren’t the only places online helping those who will live through this storm. Social media, likely because of the millions affected by this storm, has kicked into full gear.

According to an AFP story, “social networks [are] abuzz with the latest news, tips and reassurances.” #Sandy has been a top trending topic on Twitter as well as on Tumblr and other platforms. Facebook groups have been popping up to help people communicate and prepare.

Accuweather even hosted a Google+ Hangout so that people could “get their questions … answered in real time by their meteorologists.” There are apps-a-plenty available from organizations like the American Red Cross, which are loaded with information. Despite the seriousness of the storm, people have even taken the time to be humorous about the situation.

Technology at its Best

I find it wonderful to see all of this great technology be fully utilized at time when we need it most. Companies like Google earn a lot of brownie points in my world because they go out of their way to help. Fifty years ago, heck, even 20 years ago, there would be millions of people still worried with lots of questions unanswered. Now we can find out answers in a matter of seconds.

Hopefully I’ll be writing more news pieces throughout the week, but the storm may be knocking out power and internet over much of the East Coast. To everyone in the areas to be affected by the storm, be sure to learn as much as you can. Let’s hope this isn’t too terrible.

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Patrick currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is studying for a Master's Degree in Intercultural Relations. Upon graduation from Penn State in 2008, he spent two years overseas in Kyrgyzstan with the U.S. Peace Corps. While writing is currently his chosen way to put food on the table, he loves fitness and exercise, which he believes makes up for his avid computer gaming habit.

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