Tech firms rally to aid Japan

Michael Carroll
15 Mar 2011

It’s good to see the international tech community rally round Japan in the wake of the huge earthquake and resulting tsunami late last week.

The natural disaster wiped out communications infrastructure and damaged several subsea cables, including the APCN 2 cable, though service providers quickly re-routed traffic over undamaged cables to maintain Internet access. Wireless communications took the brunt of the hit, with power failures and overloaded networks causing severe congestion.

To circumvent the lack of steady cellular coverage, UK search and rescue teams will use TETRA handhelds from Sepura to help coordinate their attempts to locate survivors. The firm has supplied 50 units to searchers, which can operate in Direct Mode meaning no TETRA infrastructure is needed.

Other firms are focusing on streamlining the donations process, with Amazon on Friday turning its website’s secure payment platforms into Red Cross aid donation centers.

Google is also offering a Red Cross donation feature on a crisis response page that also offers a social network-style people finder service. The feature allows concerned friends and relatives to post the names of people they’re looking for, and those trapped in Japan to leave details if safe.

The search giant’s teams in Tokyo have also updated Google Maps to show where shelters are located, and has published lists of important telephone numbers.

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