Dubai - Keralite volunteers in the UAE, along with many others from various parts of the world, have been preparing the data of the affected people for the rescue teams working back home.
As the government machinery and the public in Kerala are continuing tireless efforts to rescue the people who are stranded in flooded areas, many Keralite residents in the UAE are also contributing their bit to the rescue operations back home.
Keralite volunteers in the UAE, along with many others from various parts of the world, have been preparing the data of the affected people for the rescue teams working back home, using social media and cloud technology. The data is accessible to the rescue coordinators, who forward it to the team working on the field.
Kiran Kannan, a volunteer who has been leading the 'rescue' work in Abu Dhabi, told Khaleej Times: "We have more than 40 people working on the data here. We get information about the affected people from social media and other sources. Initially, we were working on a Google spreadsheet created by former Kozhikode collector Prashanth Nair and later, we shifted to the website created by the government for this purpose, www.keralarescue.in."
The rescue requests posted by the volunteers are then filtered by another team to avoid repetitions and verify the severity of the case. "These teams also work on cloud and most of them are outside Kerala," said Kiran.
Vipin Mohan, a Keralite from Kannur who works on updating rescue requests from Dubai, said: "As most of the places in Kerala don't have proper electricity or network now, these activities can only be done from outside the state."
He mainly uses Facebook to receive information and shares them through a popular Facebook Page named Kerala Flood Disaster Urgent Help. "The page has more than 12,000 followers, who are actively participating in the rescue operations as volunteers. So every little bit of information is precious," said Vipin.
Still there are some issues with the site as once the data is entered, the team can't get updates about what action has taken by the teams. "We are trying to introduce some other systems, which can help us further," said Kiran.
"We are getting hundreds of requests every hour, which we update on the site. We may take three minutes to enter a rescue request.
"It is not that easy for the rescue workers. Of course, some people do complain about the delay in rescue. But the situation is that grim in Kerala," he added.
The team of 40 started their work on Wednesday. On the first day, most of the requests were from Pathanamthitta districts and later rescue requests came from Thrissur and Alappuzha districts.
Kiran Kannan's team entered the request of a pregnant woman, who was rescued later and delivered safely at a hospital. "Her relatives thanked us on Facebook after she gave birth to a healthy baby. We don't know whether the rescue team went there upon the request placed by us. But that was a moment of satisfaction."
Social media help rescue alerts
Joselet Joseph, an avid social media user from Sharjah, uses social media to spread the details about affected people. "I hail from Kuttanad in Alappuzha district. My area is under water and all my family have moved to secure places. For three days, we didn't have electricity or phone connectivity back home. The only possible way of communication is land phones in some houses. I get calls from many people in the area and I update those on Facebook."
Kiran Kannan and his team use the information posted on social media by individuals like Joselet to pass it to rescue coordinators, who have access to the website, www.keralarescue.in.