Wednesday, August 24, 2011

From the BNA: HHS Challenges Software Developers To Make Facebook Applications for Disasters

the Department of Health and Human Services announced Aug. 22 that federal officials are challenging software application developers to design new Facebook applications to help people prepare for emergencies and get support from friends and family after an emergency strikes.

HHS said its Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) issued the ASPR Lifeline Facebook Application Developer Challenge in collaboration with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). According to HHS, the online challenge runs throughout National Preparedness Month in September and the remainder of the 2011 hurricane season, closing Nov. 4.

“After disasters, a tremendous number of people use Facebook to post and share information,” Assistant HHS Secretary Nicole Lurie said. She added, “We're challenging our country's most innovative developers to create apps that help people use Facebook not only to reach out to friends and family for any kind of help they may need after emergency but also to become better prepared in the first place.”

The person or team developing the best application will receive $10,000 from HHS and free admission from Health 2.0 to the 2012 Health 2.0 conference, and will be invited to an HHS event with Lurie, according to HHS. The second-place winner will get $5,000, and third place will receive $1,000.

According to HHS, the submissions will be judged on the application's ability to enhance community connections and improve individual preparedness. “The goal is an app that enables a Facebook user to invite three Facebook friends to become lifelines, points of contact who agree to act as a source of support during disasters such as providing transportation, a place to stay or anything else the Facebook friend may need,” the department said.

HHS said that all submissions will be reviewed by judges from Facebook, ASPR, FEMA, and the New Orleans Health Commissioner.

The Aug. 22 announcement by HHS follows publication of an Aug. 10 notice on the “Lifeline Facebook App Challenge” in the Federal Register (76 Fed. Reg. 49485).

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