Sunday, September 04, 2005
The stories are heartbreaking. While I am working at a macro level, I am also able to observe the celebrations when members of the Evacuee Community find loved ones or experience the heartache of loved ones not found.
Yesterday, an older gentlemen without computer skills came into the ACT Center (Astrodome Community Technology Center) looking for his wife who he had not seen in five days. Through one of the online people connector sites and assistance from a caring volunteer, he discovered that his wife was on her way to the Astrodome from Louisiana to pick him up. At the Superdome they had gotten separated in the bus area. She ended up at another site in LA and he ended up at the Astrodome. He was distraught when came in and left with a huge smile on his face. Then there was another man, a 35ish young father who had not seen his wife and two daughters for three days. He was frantic to find them. He posted his information and looked for information about them on several connector sites. He did not find them. Emotions here range from numb to jubiliation. Hopefully, what all of these connector web sites and CTC projects at relief Center sites create is a greater chance that loved ones will be reunited with their families.
Technology For All has been working with FEMA here at the dome to expand their registration process. This is a critical issue now at all sites in addition to assisting with the locator process. TFA has been asked to assist at Houston's George R. Brown Convention Center with the development of another CTC there when the Telco orders are processed as well as other efforts including a digital story telling project with the University of Houston.
We will be working with Deaf Link at the dome this morning to operate a hearing impaired intake center. We have also been asked to assist with CTC development programs for San Antonio, Dallas, Ft. Worth as well as various other locations here in Houston. TFA will be working with other CTCs in Houston to expand local efforts at existing CTCs and CTCs we have under development at other relief centers. I thank my friend Gene Crick for his assistance in helping hand off the task of identifying local CTC/community networking point persons in other Texas cities that can help local Evacuee Community efforts there. Each of these sites in Houston and in other cities will need hardware, volunteers and $'s to pull this off. As we know the needs and who the point persons and organizations in other cities are, we will post it.
We are working closely with the Red Cross and Yahoo on integrating with many locator databases (http://www.familymessages.org/ http://www.msnbc.com/) as well as the home placement sites such as http://www.katrinahomes.org/ and http://www.katrinahousing.org/. We know of several other efforts to create a centralized database or web crawlers to pull disparate databases together. Our hope is that somehow everyone working on these "centralized projects" will begin to talk to each other and work together to create one solution. This is not about who can build a better database and get more "hits" and admiration for it. It is about working together to build a solution that works and helps these folks find their loved ones and start a new life in their new hometowns.
TFA is also beaming TFA-Wireless public access Wi-Fi to the floor of the dome to assist Motion Computing and the Red Cross with registration and the location of family members here at the dome. This will be a useful tool at other sites in other cities. We have taken on the responsibility of getting TFA-Wireless up at the sites here in Houston.
There has been overwhelming support in terms of time and resources from our community, business and of course our individual volunteers. The Red Cross database does need more EXPERIENCED volunteers for data entry here at the dome this morning. They are far behind and could use competent volunteer support. If you know interested parties please let us know by making a comment on this blog (click on the # below to make a comment) or send an email to Will.Reed@techforall.org . The ACT Center is located in the Astrodome on the bottom level at the south entrance. We are open this morning at 9AM. Any data entry volunteers can report there and we can get them to the Red Cross. We also continue to need volunteers locally to assist evacuees who are not computer literate to input people locator and FEMA information.
Thanks for your support!
My name is Jeremy Iglehart. I have been working for three days now to get computers and money together to come down and help.
I have spoken with Siemens Medical Solutions and believe they will be able to donate a significant number of laptops (60, 100, up to 1000) for this effort. I have also contact the Rotary Club in Morristown NJ, they have stated they have more then enough money to help out with this but I am unable to say at this time I have either source of donations confirmed on giving.
I am tracking information on my website also:
I have several people interested, some even extremely knowledgeable on how to get these things moving. Right now I need contact from you guys. I need to know exactly how to come down and help. Please call me on my cell phone: 973-885-0123 or email me Jeremy.Iglehart@gmail.com
Thank you for helping me help you as soon as possible.