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Times Daily, Nov. 24th, 2011

Nov. 24, 2011, noon · 0 comments

Tracking site gaining interest around state

Posted: Thursday, November 24, 2011 12:00 am
Updated: 4:20 pm, Thu May 2, 2013.

Florence, Alabama

By Robert Palmer
Staff Writer

An Internet-based community communications system created in the Shoals is getting the attention of Alabama’s most technology-savvy city.

Members of Loving the Shoals, a cross-community group of nonprofit organizations and government officials, met recently with Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and his staff to demonstrate the Charity Tracker system.

“We left the meeting with an affirmation that we could create a north Alabama care network to prepare for disaster relief,” said Mike Simon, owner of Simon Solutions, which created the Charity Tracker system.

Charity Tracker is an Internet-based information storage and communication system being used by churches, nonprofit agencies and some government agencies. It has a searchable database for members and allows real-time communication, which can be useful during disasters. It also helps charitable organizations keep track of those receiving help and whether individuals are seeking assistance from multiple agencies.

Simon said 23 Alabama counties are using Charity Tracker, and state government agencies have expressed an interest. He said the system is being used by more than 400 cities across the country.

Florence Mayor Bobby Irons took part in the meeting. He said adding Huntsville to the network would be invaluable during emergencies and disasters such as the April 27 tornadoes that ravaged northern Alabama.

“The exciting part of this is that it can network all over the state,” he said. “What would be attractive to us would be connecting all north Alabama cities.

“The track record has been that we have all helped each other in disasters. With this, we could reach out on the Internet when we’ve had a storm and need generators, for example,” he said.

Both Irons and Simon said one of Battle’s staff members heard about Charity Tracker and asked the Loving the Shoals representatives to demonstrate the system for the mayor.

Loving the Shoals grew out of the influx of refugees in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2006. Simon said local relief organizations and governments had no effective means of communicating needs with each other, and he was asked to devise an Internet-based system for real-time communication and data storage.

Irons said Alabama’s Homeland Security office has expressed an interest in the system.

Other state agencies may be interested, too, Simon said.

“The Emergency Broadcast System in Alabama did not work when it was tested a couple of weeks ago,” he said. “I hope that state government would see the potential in this system.”

Robert Palmer can be reached at 256-740-5720 or robert.palmer@TimesDaily.com.

Here's a link to the original article.

Categories: Press

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