FEMA Taps Google, Microsoft For Disaster-Response Team

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By Julianne Pepitone

After a major storm or disaster, Internet and phone connectivity are often knocked out -- leaving survivors and emergency-response teams with few ways to communicate. Now, the government is assembling a team of tech titans that will help train volunteers to set up temporary communications and other systems post-disaster.

Seven technology organizations -- Cisco, Google, Humanity Road, Information Technology Disaster Resource Center, Intel, Joint Communications Task Force and Microsoft -- have joined the program, called Tech Corps, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced this week. The tech blog Engadget first reported the news.

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Tech Corps focuses on training skilled volunteers to set up or fix technology systems that could help with emergency response and recovery efforts. They could install a temporary cell phone network, for example, or provide analysis on disaster-related data.

Partners of the program, which launched in 2013, have already provided telecommunications support during Hurricane Sandy and the earthquakes in Nepal and Haiti, FEMA noted in a statement. Tech Corps partners work with governmental emergency managers to help fill the critical technology gaps after an incident.