Food shortages and distribution issues have become a major problem in the aftermath of the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan. In many areas, supermarket shelves are empty, particularly as people stock up on food and other items as they face uncertainty around the nuclear situation in the country. In Sendai, people in shelters are waiting for food to arrive, as transportation problems have slowed distribution.
Second Harvest Japan, Japan’s food banking network is coordinating donations and distribution of food and other grocery items for impacted people of the earthquake and tsunami. The recent events have driven massive local demand for their services and many government agencies, relief organizations, shelters, and people in need of food are reaching out to them for help. Their existing website wasn’t set up for the rapid updates required in a time of disaster. They needed a site that could not only support real-time publishing, but also provide high performance and the ability to handle large volumes of visitors from around the world.
Microsoft, AidMatrix and Slalom Consulting have partnered to provide a cloud based community communication portal for Second Harvest Japan. The portal uses Microsoft’s Windows Azure and related Aidmatrix Microsoft-based cloud technologies for coordination across food donors, transportation providers and distributors in the Japan relief effort.
Microsoft is offering the disaster response portal free-of-charge to government and nonprofit agencies working on relief efforts in Japan. Interested agencies should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cloud services and applications can be hosted anywhere in the world, avoiding issues such as damaged infrastructure and equipment, power shortages or telecommunications service interruptions. In addition cloud services can actively scale to meet increased demand.
The portal provides mass communications and light collaboration. It includes features such as situational awareness through mapping and information overlays, rich search and HTML content editing, social network capabilities, and RSS feeds. It’s particularly effective in disaster situations because it helps customers avoid latency or downtime issues that can be caused by a traffic spike during a disaster and there are no IT back-end and support costs.
The team at Second Harvest Japan have already noted increased community activity which they attribute to the emergency portal.
Microsoft is offering the disaster response portal free-of-charge to government and nonprofit agencies working on relief efforts in Japan.
Find out more about the resources Microsoft is providing to aid relief efforts here.
For local Japanese information and contact details please visit here.