Over the weekend, a strong earthquake struck Nepal with tragic consequences. The death toll continues to rise, with counts currently reported around 4000. Now is a crucial time for relief efforts as the golden window of time to rescue survivors elapses. In response, tech companies are springing into action, offering whatever services they can to help the relief effort. Microsoft is doing its part to provide relief by immediately making Skype calls for mobiles and landlines both to and from Nepal completely free of charge.
Microsoft’s offering of free Skype services should bypass some of the infrastructure damage, not to mention any unwanted expense from contacting friends and relatives on the other side of the world. Microsoft also made an immediate donation to NetHope, an assembly of NGO’s that specialize in providing IT connectivity to developing nations. The funds will go directly toward the NGO’s crisis response operations.
Microsoft also put its internal Giving website into action. There, employees are encouraged to donate to first-responder organizations on the ground such as American Red Cross, and Microsoft is matching donations, as well.
We’ve seen a great deal of effort put towards the relief by various tech companies. T-Mobile and Sprint are making all calls and texts to and from Nepal free of charge, for the time at hand. Google activated its interactive Person Finder database, where one can find and post status information about people in the affected area. Also, Facebook’s Safety Check feature prompted users in Nepal to update their status as “safe” if they are ok.
Right now, due to limited communication in rural areas, there still isn’t a clear picture of just how widespread the damage is. Microsoft is maintaining direct contact with government officials, NGO’s and businesses in the area it ascertains how to best deploy its technology in the relief efforts.