When Hurricane Issac hit New Orleans the last thing that residents were worrying about was 3G connections, broadband, or internet access. They were fighting to find basic needs like food, water, ice and medical aid. The City of New Orleans kept a running Twitter feed, updating residents where they could go for help, but only few residents could access Twitter. Civic minded friends, Oliver Blank and Earl Carlson were in New Orleans, completely disconnected. After the Hurricane, they worked together to build a solution to ensuring all residents could have access to critical information in the event of a disaster.
“Despite my technical knowhow, I was literally powerless just like hundreds of thousands of other citizens. Many of us couldn’t access the Internet, let alone follow a Twitter feed containing emergency response information,” says Oliver Blank. He teamed up with fellow developer Earl Carlson, to build 60 Second Scoop, a service that relays all the web based pertinent information, Twitter updates, and emergency announcements via phone.
After Issac hit, 500,000 homes lost power, some for longer than a week. But remarkably, home phone lines and cell phones were still working in several neighborhoods. Oliver and Earl saw the phone as their common denominator, capable of reaching the most residents. They put together 60 Second Scoop so residents can call one number and get all the information they need in just 60 seconds.
The decision to go with a Twilio Voice powered app was simple to Oliver “This kind of information should be as inclusive and as accessible as possible. I realized that making information available via the telephone system would allow more people to access it,” he says. Oliver and Earl are currently working to make 60 Second Scoop available in cities across the U.S. They recently partnered with Neighborland that allows residents to post causes that will better their city and get support from other residents.
For more information on 60 Second Scoop you can visit their website here.