Colón-Viera is one of the members of a group of over 200 coders, computer scientists, and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs calling themselves the Maria Tech Brigade, who believe that relief efforts after Hurricane Maria need to be approached from a different perspective. Namely, by developing technologies for people connected to Puerto Rico.The Brigade does eventually want to extend these technologies to people in Puerto Rico. For instance, member Jesús Luzon is working on developing low-cost solar panels for people without power. But initiatives like these are in their beginning stages, and the Brigade's most notable success so far might be its community.
"We are not focusing on traditional relief efforts."
Why organize online?
Tools of the Brigade
Rios said that Snail-Check is populated with information from a group of about 60 volunteers, government officials, and shelters in Puerto Rico. These volunteers submit people's names to the Brigade after verifying their safety.According to its entries counter, Snail-Check has cataloged the safety of almost 11,500 people as of October 3."Now, the [PRFAA] can do other things instead of answering the phone all day," Rios said. "We created the technology to help without disrupting the operation."However, relief crews in Puerto Rico have had notorious difficulty in reaching all parts of the Island. In fact, the military only recently mobilized its tactical hospitals to Puerto Rico. People who live in rural areas inaccessible by roads are less likely to be included in the database than those who live in the San Juan metropolitan area.
"Every once in awhile, we just feel super powerless."