As Japan was slammed with a colossal earthquake followed by a tsunami in March and aftershocks continuing into April, the world watched in fear and concern. While we may not see as much regarding the disaster blasted on our television screens and online news sources, the country and its people are still suffering. Death counts have reached beyond 12,000 with countless others still missing. Those who have made it to evacuation centers are provided with food, shelter and a safe place to sleep. Yet, evacuees are now in need of communication. Survivors want to communicate their safety to friends and family and hopefully connect with others who are still missing. In March, major cell phone service providers Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile allowed users to make phone calls and send text messages for free to and from Japan and major corporations have made significant donations in aid of helping with immediate and future costs of the disaster. Also on the mobile side of things, several text-to-donate campaigns have been set up, allowing cell phone users to send simple SMS messages with contributions to the cause. Thanks to a group of tech companies led by Intel, evacuation centers are being outfitted with laptop PCs connected to the internet with WiMAX, an IP based wireless broadband access technology that provides performance similar to Wi-Fi networks with the same kind of coverage and quality of cellular networks. These laptops are giving evacuees access to social networks, news sources and YouTube to make understanding their circumstances and communicating with the rest of the world easier. The events in Japan have shown technology to be a beneficial resource in a crisis. Technology and its services have provided people with answers and a sense of solace in a time of confusion and distress.
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