From both the long-term and short-term views, Microsoft has been using technology to help Haiti in its road to recovery after being devastated by a major earthquake exactly one year ago.
There is still major work to be done: Some 800,000 people are still living in temporary shelters in Haiti, according to the BBC.
“This has been heralded as probably the most devastating event of the century,” said Claire Bonilla, Microsoft’s senior director of business continuity and disaster response. “We knew it would take a global community of international players to respond in a cohesive and coordinated fashion.”
In the first weeks and months after the disaster, Microsoft partnered with NetHope to build Internet infrastructure for the government of Haiti and aid organizations. The company also helped launch a website for collaboration between agencies called OneResponse and deployed cloud computing for Haiti’s government.
With a long view in mind, Microsoft and NetHope created the NetHope Academy, an initiative training Haitians on technology they can use to get jobs and help rebuild their own country.
Jude Antenor, an intern with the program, is optimistic about his country’s future.
“With a little bit of coaching and access to more resources . . . I think that the younger generation can have a big impact in the world,” he said.
Bonilla said the power of interagency partnership and cloud computing were the two takeaways from her experience in Haiti.
“As you can imagine, when there’s a disaster, the infrastructure of the affected area is wiped out—water, power, Internet,” she said. “The ability to host a portal from a safe, unimpacted location and to connect into secure collaboration portals and start the flow of information can help millions during an incident.”
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