Tech Companies Step Up For Nepal

Screenshot of Nepal drone footage  PHOTO FROM REUTERS

Screenshot of Nepal drone footage PHOTO FROM REUTERS

As I write this, the death toll in Nepal is sadly more than 5,200 and rising. The demand for information about survivors and those still in danger is high. Because of this, several tech companies have stepped up to help. For a limited time, note the offers below: • Apple activated an iTunes Store feature that allows you to donate to American Red Cross. • AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile: waiving fees for calls and texts to Nepal until May 16. • Google Voice: Discounted rates to 1 cent per minute to Nepal (usually 19 cents per minute). • Microsoft is offering free Skype calls to landlines and mobile phones in Nepal. No Skype credit is required to make these calls. The company also pledged a minimum of $1 million to recovery efforts. • Time Warner: All calls to Nepal placed with Time Warner Cable’s Home Phone and Business Services are free through May 25. • Verizon: waiving fees for calls and texts to Nepal until May 31. • Viber: Calls for users in Nepal are free to any destination.

On another note, since I wrote about drones a couple weeks ago, they are being used heavily by relief teams in Nepal (see picture). They are key in mapping the terrain (seeing what buildings are destroyed and which roads are still functional), and assisting emergency responders to pinpoint where aid is vital.

Click Chick’s Mobile App of the Week: STOP!T

STOP!T just launched in Hawaii this week, and is an anti-cyberbullying app (designed for students) that allows victims and witnesses of cyberbullying to anonymously report incidents directly to school officials and parents.

My alma mater, Hawaii Baptist Academy, is the first school in Hawaii to implement this STOP!T app for its seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade students (about 330 students). So far, more than 100 schools across the U.S. have signed on.

Stop!t makes it possible to be an ‘upstander' rather than a bystander PHOTO COURTESY STOP!T

Stop!t makes it possible to be an ‘upstander’ rather than a bystander PHOTO COURTESY STOP!T

I asked Todd Schobel, founder and CEO of STOP!T, what inspired him to create this app, and he says he was driving to work one day and heard the story of Canadian teen Amanda Todd. She killed herself at age 15 after being bullied and physically assaulted by her classmates at school. As a dad himself, Schobel was touched by Amanda’s story and did not want this extreme bullying to happen to others. Some schools that have implemented STOP!T report up to 60 percent reduction in incidents.

STOP!T’s key technology is DOCUMENTit, a cloud-based incident management system for school administrators. Its one-touch reporting empowers school administrators to “deactivate” users for malicious or fictitious reports, and empowers students to take a photo or video of offensive material and forward it. The school pays for the service (ranges from a nominal $1 to $3 per student, per year), and students and schools benefit.

Just to give you an idea what a serious problem this is, according to the iSafe Foundation, at least 52 percent of teens have been bullied online, and 35 percent of children actually have been threatened online (some more than once). Additionally, suggests that 90 percent of children in grades 4 through 8 have been bullied at some point. The app allows for two-way anonymous communication and supports push notifications of text and videos, making it possible to be an “upstander” instead of a bystander.

The bottom line is Schobel hopes the app will help catch bullying before students get seriously hurt — or hurt themselves, as Amanda did.

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