FEMA is the government, and they really are here to help.
Today, FEMA launches a useful application that could, potentially, save lives in a natural disaster. Before we get ahead of ourselves, the relaunch of m.fema.gov does not include instantaneous communication tools, but that's what the agency is planning. As hurricane season approaches, FEMA administrator Craig Fugate wanted to make sure his department's mobile disaster assistance registration platform was ready, secure, and available.
FEMA allowed me to test it, which I did from my iPhone. It took about 15 minutes for me to register for my fictional disaster. I worried about two things: bandwidth and security. If tens of thousands of people applied for assistance at the same time, would FEMA servers be able to handle it all? And would the information be secure? Fugate, in an interview, said that the mobile platform was built on top of a highly secure disaster assistance infrastructure that could scale up quite quickly in the event of an emergency. He noted that the program requires users to answer a security question with the aim of weeding out spammers and cyber criminals.
The need for a mobile platform for disaster assistance is obvious. "People don't need to look at our org chart in the middle of a disaster," Fugate said. "And we really wanted to go into the hurricane season wanting to provide a web experience for mobile users that was useful for survivors."