Note: your contribution matters! This project only started Sat Sep 3, ramped up extraordinarily quickly, and still has only around 100 volunteers so far, to cover millions of affected people.
Background: HurricaneKatrina? is the worst catastrophe to ever hit the UnitedStates?; the AmericanRedCross? estimates possibly 10,000 have died, and that 1,000,000 people are currently displaced/evacuated/relocated (the term "refugee" has irrelevant negative connotations and is therefore not preferred). Nearby, Texas, one of the largest U.S. States (in contention with Alaska and California for the title, depending on how "large" is measured overall) has so far accepted 240,000 of those estimated evacuees, but the Texas governor is now saying that they have no more infrastructure to accept more.
The project: Project KatarinaPeopleFinder? aims to help survivors and their loved ones reconnect, a notoriously massively difficult problem after catastrophes, but in this day and age, more workable than ever before.
The goal is to create (from zillions of cooperating sites), a coordinated database wherein survivors and their loved ones can find each other, and therefore begin to rebuild their lives.
To that end, please join us to find data from the hundreds of web sites where people say "I'm worried about X!", and other hundreds of sites where people say "I'm Y and I'm OK!", and enter it into a database which can be centrally searched.
Project KatarinaPeopleFinder? is cooperating with all the other survivor database projects on the net, but is unique in incorporating data from non-structured sources (i.e. page scraping zillions of forum postings written in free-form English), which is where the need for volunteers enters -- a human needs to examine forum postings, and from that, discern appropriate FirstName?/LastName? and Status kinds of information, and enter that into a database.
The project is Wiki-based, and is working in a huge hurry, so it cannot hope to present itself to the general public, it needs people who already understand what wikis are all about, just as a launching point for coordinating the volunteer efforts.
All HurricaneKatrina? database projects are cooperating, sharing data, etc. Every site with a database is eager to share it with other sites, and in turn accept data inward from other databases. Everyone just wants to help.
As a BTW, the sociology of this project is doubtless of interest to Meatball people whether they volunteer or not; the sheer speed of it is amazing.
I will later insert a link to the record of its beginnings.
Thanks to DavidLiu for finding the worldchanging.com note, and for his comments about this on my home page here: DougMerritt. Thanks, -- DougMerritt
Related: The Katrina Data Project -- Helping Bring Order to a Hurricane of Data "Our goal is to help existing groups & websites organize safe/missing person's data, providing advanced standardization, matching, & searching capabilities." http://www.katrinadataproject.com/index.aspx