As the crisis continue to unfold in Haiti, the most important thing we in the outside world can do is donate money. The Haitian people are in desperate need of potable water, food, medicine, and basic medical supplies. However, I believe there's more those of us who live in the IT world can do to offer this devastated people our support: infrastructure.
Most of Haiti's infrastructure was destroyed during the earthquake this weekend. Phone don't work, what little Internet access they had within the country is now either non-existent or spotty, and mobile phone, without electricity to charge them, are starting to fail after nearly 72 hours without reliable power. This is an opportunity for the IT community to truly step up and show that we're much more than bits and cool web services but that our profession can truly benefit the common man who might not ever even know what an email looks like.
I'd like to encourage anyone with IT skills to think of creative ways they can help the people of Haiti. While you may not be able to go to Haiti yourself, many organizations are already on the ground and need remote workers to help set up equipment, manage networks, and provide IT support to field workers.
Right now, I'm in touch with three seperate companies to get donations of computer and satelite hardware that will be used for public telephone and Internet kiosks throughout Port-au-Prince. This will allow the population to interact better with the outside world, make and receive calls to loved ones abroad (possibly including video calls depending on bandwidth), and hopefully feel connected to those of us who care so deeply about them.
Everyone can do something. Perhaps you can convince your company to donate money or equipment, perhaps you can provide remote field support, or perhaps you can even go to Haiti as part of the relief effort. Regardless of your job, we are all in a position to help and it is our absolute duty to our brothers and sisters there to do whatever we can to make sure they have the supplies and support they need - both emotional and physical.
What can you to do help?