Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Competition Year: 2012

We make tech tools for disaster relief.

Mobile Devices and Communications Emergency and Disaster Relief

  • Team Members
  • M. O'Neill
  • C. Kuryak
  • A. Liang
  • C. O'Neill
  • W. Kaminsky

Quick Links

Our Pitch provides software and web hosting to areas recovering from disasters, allowing them to capture the goodwill of people and turn it into action.

We got a crash course in recovery when an EF3 tornado scrambled our hometown of Monson, MA in June 2011. Groups like the Red Cross bring many resources into a town, but generally they don’t handle local donations, don’t organize spontaneous volunteers, and don’t stay very long. The task of organizing long-term recovery thus inevitably falls on community members, and they often have little training or tools. In contrast, we can launch within minutes, providing community members with searchable databases, social media aggregation, and mobile apps. When resources stream into an area following an event, we help local organizers and affected families utilize them as efficiently as possible, and we offer support throughout the entire recovery process.

Most recently, we've been helping in Forney, Blackland, and Royse City, Texas, which were struck by tornadoes on April 3. As of the very next day, we were helping Forney with our beta software. We were then asked by Blackland and Royse City to help them as well.

You can view these efforts at and

Also, you can see a profile of us from ABC Channel 8 Dallas-Ft. Worth (with video):


Provide organizing software to all US disaster areas.

Who We Are

Caitria O'Neill was standing in the front yard when the tornado barreled across the street in Monson last summer. She worked 18 hour days to organize the town effectively, directing truckloads of aid and hundreds of volunteers. Caitria has a command of current disaster response frameworks and a knack for grassroots community organizing. She has worked for Harvard Law Review and the U.S. State Department, and has completed the FEMA certificate courses for NIMS 700/800 and ICS 100/200. When not organizing tornado relief, she spends time leading backpacking trips, playing Irish folk music and reading. She holds an A.B. degree in Government from Harvard University.

Morgan O'Neill drove home to Monson immediately after the tornado, bringing ice and batteries. Her significant social organizing experience was critical to the infrastructure necessary for effective community response, and her cell phone served as the town hotline for 10 days. She has over 3 years of experience in political campaigns, ranging from city council races to a presidential election. Morgan is also a MA-certified EMT-B and actively volunteers for an ambulance service and the Red Cross. She has a B.Sc. in Physics from the University of New Hampshire and is now studying hurricane dynamics for her Ph.D. at MIT.

Alvin Liang is our technical lead and a professional software engineer who believes good code can change the world. He is helping to scale a crash reporting and mobile performance monitoring platform to operate on millions of mobile phones as one of the early employees at Crittercism. Alvin first graduated from MIT with S.B. degrees in Biology and Computer Science in 2005, going on to work as a cancer research assistant at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 2008, Alvin transitioned to full-time software engineer, receiving an additional M.Eng. degree in Computer Science.

Chris Kuryak runs field operations for He is currently a Ph.D. student in the Mechanical Engineering Department at MIT and his dedication to public service began when tutoring fellow students in high school physics. During the relief effort in Clay, Alabama this year, he realized that consolidating information and coordinating efforts at all levels are essential for an effective recovery. He is also the President of the MIT Film Club and on the staff of the MIT Clean Energy Prize. He worked for four years at Athena Manufacturing in Austin, Texas after receiving a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

Bill Kaminsky researches best practices in disaster relief, especially related to mobile communication technologies, for His interest in disaster relief began with service as a volunteer EMT-B near his hometown in Connecticut and grew as his academic research in quantum computation turned out to have applications for optimizing logistics among many parties with conflicting constraints. Bill is a Ph.D. candidate in physics at MIT researching quantum computation on a Fannie and John Hertz Foundation Fellowship. Prior to these studies at MIT, Bill completed his bachelor's studies in physics summa cum laude at Harvard and his master's studies at the University of Cambridge on a Herschel Smith Harvard Scholarship.

Our Community Partner

Partner Name

Community Life Church


Forney, TX


The Community Life Church structured donation items, canvassing and volunteers following the April 3 tornado in Forney. The church will be involved in long term support, using the Disaster Dashboard to manage recovery issues.


  • Service Location
    All of the USA, most recently, Forney, Blackland, and Royse City, TX
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Comments and Support

  • This work is remarkable and important. I'm sure that the Crisis Mapping community looks forward to your progress.

    Posted by o. goeckermann on Sun, Apr 22nd 2012, 23:20 Report Abuse

  • Hello Team, Welcome to MIT Global Challenge. Looking forward to your work. Feel free to fill me in with your progress or any kind of help that you need. All the best - Sneha Chitte (Community Manager, MIT Global Challenge)

    Posted by S. Chitte on Sun, Feb 12th 2012, 13:26 Report Abuse

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