Hawaii-Built App Helps Homeowners in Disasters
by Denise Laitinen
Hawaii Island is vulnerable to a variety of natural disasters, including earthquakes, lava flows, hurricanes and tsunami.
Oceanit, a Hawaii-based science and engineering firm, has created an application for mobile devices that enables Hawaii homeowners to inventory their belongings in the event of a disaster.
Homeowners can create a “baseline” of pre-disaster conditions of their property and save it for future reference.
Photos, videos, and comments noting the value of household items can be added to the report and are automatically geo-located and time-stamped.
The information is stored on a secure sever and can be uploaded to iCloud where it can be accessed in the event of a disaster.
After a disaster, homeowners can create a report to document post-disaster conditions.
Both the baseline and post-disaster reports can then be used as evidence of damage for insurance and FEMA reimbursement purposes.
The company said the information remains private and is not viewed by other users.
The app also provides a variety of disaster preparedness information, such as the locations of emergency shelters.
According to Ian Kitajima, Oceanit’s director of business development, the myMERCI app is a simplified version of a more comprehensive system used by Hawaii State Civil Defense.
MERCI is an acronym for Mobile Emergency Response and Command Interface. The program was developed to allow first responders to make quick and accurate damage assessments following a natural disaster.
The app, which is available for free on the iTunes store, is currently only for use on iPhones and iPads. An Android version is in development.
Kitajima says the research firm is looking for feedback from users of the current app before releasing the Android version.
People using the app can email suggestions on app modifications to firstname.lastname@example.org.