U.S. Military Struggles to Establish Web Presence Among Aid Groups in Pakistan
As Wired reports, mobile apps and crowd-sourcing technology have played an enormous role in coordinating relief efforts across a country already hampered by shoddy public infrastructure. A widget called Floodmaps, for example, uses Google Maps and Google Earth to track the progress and devastation of Pakistan's floods, and to more easily disseminate information among aid organizations. PakReport, meanwhile, is a donor-supported, text message based service allowing stranded or distressed victims to call for help.
The military has also been trying to gain entry into Pakistan's social-networking scene, although not many of the country's prominent developers have even heard of the government's effort: an online tool called HARMONIEweb. The platform is essentially a digital forum, where governmental and non-governmental relief workers can exchange the latest flood data. The site also provides links to plenty of other organizations involved in relief efforts, and allows anyone to create their own account.
Despite all of its features, though, the site has struggled to gain much of a foothold in the online community. Both its chat archive and documents folder, for example, are completely empty, while its video page contains just four clips from Russian television. It's perhaps no wonder, then, that so many independent developers are unfamiliar with HARMONIEweb.
As Wired points out, though, HARMONIEweb's relative obscurity doesn't mean that the United States isn't making significant contributions to relief efforts. The U.S. has, after all, donated millions of pounds of food, and saved some 12,000 Pakistanis in affected areas. When it comes to the Web, though, Uncle Sam is apparently out of the social-networking loop.