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Paris attacks underscore tech’s elevated role in disaster relief

  • As terror attacks put
    France
    into a national state of emergency on Friday, AirBnB, Facebook, Google, Skype,
    Twitter and Uber launched into disaster response mode.
  •  
    • As terror attacks put
      France
      into a national state of emergency on Friday, AirBnB, Facebook, Google, Skype,
      Twitter and Uber launched into disaster response mode.
    •  

    •  
    • A TechCrunch report states that AirBnB
      contacted all hosts in Paris
      asking if they could take in those stranded in the city. Facebook let users
      alert their friends they were safe. Google offered free calls to Paris via Hangouts, as
      did Skype, Verizon and Sprint. Uber turned off surge pricing in the city for
      the weekend, despite initial reports to the contrary. Twitter helped people
      find a place to stay with the hashtag #PorteOuverte and kept the rest of the
      world informed.
    •  

    •  
    • The tech companies
      did what many businesses did during a time of emergency: They lent a helping
      hand. But Friday’s events show how the industry is uniquely positioned to do so
      more quickly and adroitly due to the nature of their services, says the report.
    •  
    • Image result for google
    •  
    • AirBnB and Twitter
      provided shelter efficiently, opening doors that may not have been before their
      services existed. Facebook’s Safety Check let us know friends were accounted
      for within hours. Google Hangouts and Skype allowed loved ones to speak
      immediately. Uber helped people get where they needed to go.
    •  
    • Image result for skype logo
    •  
    • Most of these
      services were not new. They had been tested before in Hurricane Sandy or
      earthquakes. Some even emerged from past failures. But it cannot be contested
      that they offered a needed support during a time of confusion and despair as
      the world learned of brutal slayings of 132 people, mostly young and out having
      fun.
    •  
    • Image result for uber
    •  
    • The caveat in this
      increasingly connected world is that the same technologies that allow the
      survivors of an attack to coordinate are that these same tools are abused by
      terror groups. The same networks that help the world show solidarity with France are the
      same ones that ISIS, the group that has claimed responsibility for the attacks,
      reportedly uses to recruit and plot.
    •  
    • Image result for twitter
    •  
    • Inevitably in the
      coming weeks and months, the world will evaluate the role technology companies
      played in the terror attacks in Paris.
      The attacks come just months after France adopted a sweeping
      surveillance bill. New questions will emerge about how to maintain a balance
      between privacy and national security, and where tech falls in that equation.
      In those conversations, the industry’s involvement in the response to the
      attacks should not be forgotten.

     

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