According to Jim Buckmaster, CEO of Craigslist, their Lost and Found section typically has one or two posts a day. Now it’s seeing hundreds of them.
“On Tuesday [August 30], there were 712 posts,” Buckmaster says. “The traffic [Wednesday] was on pace to double that.” Even the site’s Missed Connections and Women Seeking Men sections – typically areas reserved for romance seekers – have turned into search-and-rescue repositories scattered with notes of condolences and support.
In fact, the entire Craigslist New Orleans site has become an eerie virtual facsimile of the missing-persons flyers that were found all over lower Manhattan after 9/11.
All across the Internet, blogs and websites such as Craigslist are assisting with mobilizing relief – and trying to make sense of the catastrophe unfolding in the Crescent City and along the entire Gulf Coast.
For instance, popular sites such as BoingBoing.net (which bills itself as “a directory of wonderful things”) have become sounding boards for tech-savvy people who are looking to donate cell phones, expertise, and cash for the Katrina relief effort.
Meanwhile, as citizens across the country – and around the world – figure out what they can do as individuals, technology companies are racing to put on the ground technologies that can assist in the dire need for better communications among rescue workers and public safety officials.
On CNN, Jeffrey Williams, a physician at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, addressed the hospital’s challenges – along with a lack of food, water, and power generation: “We’re not getting any information,” Williams told anchor Wolf Blitzer. “Our lack of communication is a real problem.”
Freedom4Wireless, a wireless company based in Lake Mary, FL, has sent a team of its workers in trailer trucks to the hurricane area. When they arrive on Friday, they will begin building “ad hoc wireless networks,” says Keith Money, chief operating officer for the company. The networks will provide rescue workers with voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP)-based phone networks and police radio capabilities. In addition, the equipment is solar- and battery-powered, so it can provide communications where none exists now.
Motorola has mobilized 2,500 pieces of equipment, including radios, chargers, consoles – “a huge list,” says Adrienne Dimopoulos, a company spokesperson.
“We’ve deployed systems on wheels, trailers that have infrastructure, and a generator. We just deployed a 700 mhz system to the Louisiana state police. It arrived Wednesday morning,” Dimopoulos says. A second trailer with a 900 mhz communications system is going to Jackson, Mississippi.