AUSTIN, Texas—Student researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have created a Web portal for scientists, educators and the public to share technological and humanitarian information about the tsunami tragedy of 2004.
The site, Tsunami and Technology, is used to document the technological innovations, including the Internet, e-mail, text messaging and cell phones, that played a vital role in life-saving responses to victims of the natural disaster.
Graduate students Wai Fong Chiang and Brian Lewis from the Science, Technology and Society (STS) program created the site to document the ways in which people around the globe used technology to build a highly effective community response.
“We built the Web site to help collect technological responses and to be a resource for everyone who wants to understand how technology can help us cope with emergencies,” Lewis said.
The site includes modeling and mapping technology to help understand the effects of the disaster, teaching components for K-12 teachers and information about proposed warning systems. There is also information about volunteering, aid organizations and events, and a missing person message board.
“The site is a student-directed, rapid-response research and education project,” Chiang said. “It looks at the ways in which people using technological innovations can rapidly share needed resources and alleviate suffering.”
The researchers are calling for others to contribute to the site by sharing examples of how new technologies enabled powerful human connections, saved lives and helped rebuild communities. Visitors are encouraged to send their personal reports of how technology furthered a people-to-people response for tsunami victims.
STS is an academic program at the university that explores social impacts of rapid scientific and technological change. The program integrates approaches from the liberal arts, social sciences and humanities with new developments in science and technology.