On March 27th, Dominick Tolli of the American Red Cross visited UMBC to discuss four revolutionary mobile apps his team created to better serve people impacted by natural disasters and other emergencies. When Superstorm Sandy hit, tens of thousands of people accessed the apps for information on storm conditions, available shelters, first aid and even gasoline pick-up sites.
The Baltimore Sun reported on the event, organized by Richard Bissell of the Emergency Health Services Dept., who serves on the Scientific Advisory Council of the American Red Cross. Bissell commented that the app developers “are helping move the Red Cross into the public in a way that has never been done before.”
In an emergency situation, standard forms of communications are often unavailable, making it difficult for public health groups to serve those most in need of help. Bissell says using mobile devices is “actually a pretty robust way of getting information to the people,” because cell phone signals generally remain intact during power outages.