Haiti was a proving ground for new technologies that allow people to share and access vital information during times of crisis. Like Ushahidi, which also was deployed in Haiti after the earthquake, Google's Crisis Response — a clearinghouse of satellite imagery, scientific data and video on a single Google map — was used to monitor rescue efforts in Haiti. 

Now it is covering the Gulf oil spill through its Crisis Response page. Every day or two, a new Google Earth layer is published so you can watch the extent and movement of the oil spill.

Like Ushahidi, Google is taking a major (though low-profile) step into the realm of crowdsourcing news. Users can upload their videos of the spill or news related to the Gulf oil spill, and the videos are published to a YouTube playlist, making a video record of the disaster and what is being done on the ground to stop it. Here's one from Al Jazeera:

It will be interesting to see how companies like Google and Ushahidi evolve in a world increasingly battered by disasters, both man-made and natural. 

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