ReliefMap: A 21st Century Approach to Disaster Response

This weekend I participated in the National Invitational Public Policy Challenge, hosted by the Fels Institute of Government in Philadelphia. Nine teams from across the country were selected to participate. I, along with my teammates Lakshmi Balachandran, Seisei Tatebe-Goddu, and Eric Smyth, had the honor of being the first team from Columbia’s School of International Public Affairs to participate in the annual competition.

Our idea is a disaster relief platform called ReliefMap meant to help facilitate the matching of citizens’ needs to disaster relief organizations after a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy. You can read our full proposal here.

While our team didn’t make it through to the second round, it was a valuable experience that raised the profile of the idea, which if implemented would greatly benefit the City and its inhabitants WHEN the next disaster strikes. The other teams had very interesting and well-thought-out ideas, some of which were already at the pilot phase. I can’t help but wonder what might have happened had we had a little more time to develop the idea and reach out to key stakeholders in New York City government.


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