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Deluge of online assistance for flood victims

18/02/14

A website has been launched to connect victims of the floods currently affecting thousands of people in the UK to local volunteers willing to provide them with practical assistance (@floodvolunteers and #FloodHeroes on Twitter)

The floods have left residents and businesses without electricity and phone lines, with damage to property and have disrupted travel on the roads and railways.

Flood Volunteer screenshotFlood Volunteers provides an interactive map of registered volunteers along with the type of skills or equipment on offer, their distance from the user's location and contact details. Volunteers have registered to help recovery efforts and limit further damage by pledging to lay sandbags or transport items such as furniture or livestock, among other examples.

The non-profit site has been created by online marketplace company Taskhub whose directors last Friday met with the Prime Minister's Office to discuss the ways in which Flood Volunteers can help.

And since the website's launch, a complementary app has been developed that locates Twitter users near flood-affected areas and automatically tweets them information from floodvolunteers.co.uk.

'FludBud' was developed during a one-day 'UK Flood Help' hackathon which saw developers from Facebook, Google and others to create tools using data held by Government Data Services and the Environmental Agency to provide practical useful information during a flood.

The app was chosen by a Cabinet Office panel along with seven others to be developed as publicly-available tools, including:

  • Don't Panic - a system that allows users to request and receive help online or offline and records data for future analysis and response planning, from social media aggregation company Datasift
  • UKFloodAlerts - allows people to select a type of problem on their mobile phone, such as 'power loss' or 'burst river bank' which would, in the event, automatically notify others in the area via app or SMS, developed by students at University of Kent
  • ViziCities - a tool that visualises flood levels in 3D from Vizicities.

The full list of entries can be seen here.

Joshua March, CEO of Conversocial, who helped to organise the event said: "By opening up the flood data to third party developers, powerful tools have been created that have the potential to help thousands of people in a matter of days. It's been amazing to see what can happen when the government works hand in hand with the UK tech community".

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