An aid agency staff uses his mobile phone to deliver aid messages after the earthquake in Haiti. Photo by: Russell Watkins / Department for International Development / CC BY-SA

Mobile phones have become ubiquitous around the world, and many aid workers rely on them when traveling even to the most remote areas. Smartphone applications, too, have become more popular — and although they may not solve development challenges on their own, their use can facilitate relief work when used properly.

Here are several apps geared toward humanitarians:

Aid Worker Safety
Available for Android 2.2 or later (English) and iOS 4.3 or later (French) devices

Touted as the “first safety and security application for humanitarian workers,” this app hosts safety and security guidelines, country profiles and operational tools for safety audits, among other things.

Available for Android 2.3 or later devices

CrisisSignal promises real-time updates on the state of cellular and Wi-Fi networks during and after emergencies.

Global Emergency Overview
Available for Android 2.2 or later and iOS 5.0.1 or later devices

Global Emergency Overview provides a weekly update on major disasters, with the goal of informing humanitarian decision-makers.

Humanitarian Kiosk
Available for Android 4.0 or later and iOS 6.0 or later devices

Developed by the United Nations, the app promises real-time humanitarian-related information from emergencies worldwide, even when you go offline.

Available for iOS 4.3 or later devices

This app from the European Commission is designed to “tap the abundant information about disasters available from people who actually experience them.”

Natural Disaster Monitor
Available for Android 3.0 or later devices

The Android clone of iGDACS taps information published by the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System so users can monitor natural disasters worldwide through a color-coded alert system: green, orange and red.

Relief Central
Available for Android 2.2 or later and iOS 5.0 or later devices

Through the app, relief workers, first responders and others serving in emergency relief situations get access to news from various aid groups, travel health advice such as vaccinations, and disaster assessment and response information.

What apps should aid workers have on their phones? Let us know through the comment section below, tweeting @devex and joining the conversation on LinkedIn.

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About the author

  • Ma. Eliza Villarino

    Eliza is a veteran journalist focused on covering the most pressing issues and latest innovations in global health, humanitarian aid, sustainability, and development. A member of Mensa, Eliza has earned a master's degree in public affairs and bachelor's degree in political science from the University of the Philippines.