Photo courtesy: Jennifer Holmes

Aiding disaster relief through a new social network

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By Noushin Ziafati

A Ryerson grad has founded a startup to make handling emergencies easier with the help of others around the world.

Jennifer Holmes, a graduate of Ryerson’s Master of Digital Media (MDM) program, founded DEMHUB, an emergency and disaster management network that helps emergency managers and academics work hand-in-hand, sharing information in times of urgency.

Holmes started DEMHUB so that emergency managers could share information to create preparedness programs and response plans within their communities.

“The need is basically out of the lack of resources that address that issue, that allow us to learn from each other on a macro scale or more on a global scale as opposed to a more micro or local,” Holmes said.

DEMHUB is a free online social network designed in a way that enables people to contribute their knowledge with specific natural disasters and share it with communities that are in need of help.

Users are able to reach out and get different ideas and lessons learned from natural disasters that have occurred in other parts of the world, and learn how to respond accordingly to similar situations within their own communities.

Every user has a profile in which they can promote themselves and their accomplishments, whether they’ve written any reports or studies, or if they have created emergency response plans that could be useful to others.

Holmes’ vision is that the information shared throughout DEMHUB’s platform will “ultimately contribute to a safer and resilient global community”.

She said countries that have experience with specific natural disasters can be leaders and teachers to the rest of the world. They can provide information ahead of time about how a natural disaster presented itself in the past and how it behaved. Others can look at that and decide how they should prepare and initiate plans in their own region as a response.

“That is the way that we’d like to see it unfold in real time, whenever there’s an imminent threat coming down the pipe, that is how we would like to see it occur.”

DEMHUB is based out of the iBoost Zone, which is an incubator at Ryerson’s Zone Learning network.

Holmes said running a startup is different than anything she has ever done, as a former student with a background in film and in emergency management and communications.

DEMHUB is currently in its beta stage.

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