Tech support: the innovations aiding recovery efforts in nepal


On the morning of April 25th 2015, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 hit the Himalayan nation of Nepal, just outside its capital – Kathmandu.

As is the cruel and unfortunate way with natural disasters, tens of thousands of lives have been turned upside down with the aftermath of the quake causing chaos and confusion across the region.

Almost a week after the events, aid and recovery efforts are well underway with workers facing a constant uphill struggle. Tasks such as finding survivors, re-homing families, and ensuring a regular flow of food and water, are compounded by frequent power cuts in far from ideal weather conditions.

To ease these issues, rescue teams, charities and other organisations are looking to technology to support their work. Here are a few innovations that have evolved to be vital in disaster recovery and aid missions:

Airborne gadgets are used for a number of things in the developed world, for example the PrimeAir delivery service from Amazon. In Nepal however, a charity called Global Medic is using them to photograph and map the worst affected areas. This is providing valuable intelligence, such as road blockages and landslides. Teams operating the drones are then able to plan how best to tackle the challenges they face, enabling them to deliver aid more efficiently.

Google’s Person Finder uses SMS to provide people with the ability to search for those that, for whatever reason, have been unable to make contact with family or friends. Anyone is able contribute to the records, from first responders to charities or friends and families. These records include the health of a missing person (if that information is available) or just an update, stating they have been found.

Facebook’s Safety Check Tool allows friends to check you’re safe. The site sends a notification to anyone in the affected area, using GPS data or location updates within the profile which prompt them to update their Safety Check status. Friends in that individual’s network are also able to update the feature if those in the affected area are unable to do so.