Hacking Hurricane Harvey through Crowdsourcing and Automation

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Hurricane Harvey has devastated the Texas coast, dumping over four feet of rain in some areas, displacing over 30,000 individuals, and causing over $50 billion in damages. The response at all levels of goverment has been significant. As always, local police and fire departments were the first on the scene. At the state level, the entire Texas National Guard was activated. Federally, the Department of Homeland Security has been involved through FEMA, delivering one million liters of water and one million meals to Texas while responding to over 200,000 claims for assistance and through the U.S. Coast Guard, which has deployed multiple flood response teams including dozens of helicopters and several planes. The Department of Defense is lending a hand in a big way as well, sending hundreds of active duty soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines to assist rescue efforts, along with hundreds of vehicles including trucks, Ospreys, and Hueys, as well as two warships – the USS Kearsarge and the USS Oak Hill.

These efforts, at all levels, are critical and have resulted in over 13,000 rescues thus far. However, these immense efforts are also unsustainable. As sea levels continue to rise and the intensity of catastrophic weather events increases due to climate change, our nation’s response cannot feasibly continue to include the activation of the entire National Guard of a single state or the deployment of U.S. Navy warships. Thus, the question remains as to how the nation can sustainably respond to increasingly damaging natural disasters. The answer may come from two areas: crowdsourcing and automation.

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Categorized as:International

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