Emergency response to the humanitarian crisis in Japan

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Even though the initial impact of the epic earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan at the end of last week has subsided, the serious humanitarian crisis and logistical aftermath is barely unfolding.

While much of the national reporting has focused on the nuclear power plant setbacks and emergency response to the crisis, it’s been heartening for me to read stories about how Japan’s emergency preparedness and infrastructure were so effective at preventing further casualties (New York Times: “Japan’s Strict Building Codes Saved Lives“); and it’s also particularly impressive for me to consider how effective various internet services (Facebook, Twitter, citizen journalism) have been at distributing information and bolstering crisis response.

And so, without focusing on the latest dramatic developments, I wanted to call attention to just a few inspiring stories of how companies, large and small, have set aside their primary brand promises and contributed directly to the relief efforts:

Google’s Person Finder
Almost immediately after the catastrophe, Google launched an online tool for “finding someone” or “sharing information about someone” in Japan; a simple, multi-lingual website for quick access to information.

Apple’s Retail Stores as free Wi-Fi havens
An Apple Store employee in Japan relates the inspiring story of how employees helped people connect with their friends and family and re-charge their mobile devices—users of Android devices and iPhones/iPads alike.

Wieden+Kennedy’s “Help Japan” poster
W+K Studio is donating 100% of the donations toward these beautiful posters to the Red Cross (minimum $25 donation required).

Now, I know that I’ve only mentioned prominent American firms, but I’m sure there are plenty of other inspiring examples of brands supporting humanitarian efforts in unique ways, either currently or in the past—if you have any of your own to share, please post a comment.

And finally, if you haven’t already supported the relief efforts of the American Red Cross in Japan, you can easily donate $10 by texting “REDCROSS” to 90999. (Here’s GMU economics professor Tyler Cowen on why that’s a pretty good idea.)

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