Text messages, Tweets and other web postings are assisting rescue workers to locate survivors of the Haitian earthquake still trapped under the rubble. “Relief workers in Haiti received an emergency text message Tuesday about a collapsed school, with children still alive in the rubble. A search-and-rescue team on the scene, however, couldn’t find the right location. Then a group of volunteers in Boston pinpointed the origin of the message, sent using the 4636 SMS shortcode. They rapidly relayed the information back to Erik Rasmussen, a former top naval medical officer working with rescue teams in Haiti. A team was then dispatched to the correct grid location. The coordinates were accurate to five decimal places. That small vignette, provided in e-mail update from Rassmussen, shows how volunteers are using social networking tools to aid relief efforts in Haiti. It’s not a fix-all, but it does suggest that something new and unprecedented is happening in humanitarian response.”
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