The devastating effects of hurricanes Charlie, Katrina, Ike, and many other smaller-scale destructive storms proved a serious need for, amongst other things, a greatly improved emergency information communications system. This year, leading experts in the fields of natural disasters, social media, technology, and entrepreneurship decided to do their part to build such a network. Emicus, co-founded by Jon Staenberg and Paul Berger, is a data collection system that takes in information from various sources including government agencies, news outlets, and perhaps most importantly, real-time social media network updates from those in the affected areas. Important updates regarding your area will be targeted to you when you register your zip code during sign up. Though still operating in beta, Emicus is gearing up for the first three named storms of this year's hurricane season (Ana, Bill, and Claudette). They've also released an iPhone app, which is currently the fastest way to submit real-time information to the system, all of which is tied to your current location. Another great feature is the "I AM OK" system, whereby users can notify friends and family of their own safety with one tweet, text message, or phone call, absolutely free.
Currently, there are plans for SMS integration, preparedness info, and more real-time information sharing features to come over the next few months. According to the company website, over 90% of Americans live in areas prone to moderate- to high-risk areas for natural disasters. At times like these, access to all the information you can get is extremely important, and Emicus is an example of a company that really understands the potential for people to help other people using social media.