In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Americans have done an amazing job, as usual, stepping up to help with relief efforts. Organizations like the American Red Cross have done their usual fine job of immediately ramping up to help those affected. Local media have not only covered the storm, but are also chronicling relief efforts, etc. With so many Americans touched by this massive storm, it is comforting to know that a unified effort to help is well underway to those in the Northeast without power, access to food or shelter, etc.

The huge amount of information around the storm, its effects, and the relief effort got me thinking. It is amazing how much more quickly and easily we are able to both display and capture integral data around this natural disaster in the age of “the cloud.”

For example, a local news outlet could quickly create and publish database on their website and social properties of local temporary shelters for those displaced by a storm like Sandy. And media, non-profits, and other organizations could quickly build and deploy an app to collect names and address of volunteers, and even donations. Organizations could use tools like Caspio’s geolocation tools to optimize pickup routes for clothing and food donations. Simple integrations to tools like PayPal could help organizations speed up the financial donation process. Web forms could be used for requests for assistance, or to identify problem areas where utilities have not yet been restored. Caspio customers have used the tool in the past to quickly respond to disaster – as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution had a web app related to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts together within minutes.

An example of a simple, yet effective Caspio-powered Hurricane tracking app built to track the effects of Hurricane Irene in 2011.

The possibilities are limited only by the imagination of those involved, and the necessity of the situation. But the real value if the fact that these web databases and apps can be built literally in minutes. Before simple, scalable cloud-based application platforms – the time to develop and deploy these types of applications would have made it too cumbersome to even try in some cases. Also, traditional packaged applications did not offer flexible licensing to where it was feasible to scale an application to the potentially millions of people touched by this terrible event. User-based, and CPU-based pricing models were too cost prohibitive to building time-sensitive apps that will see big spikes in activity, and then possibly not be used at all. The ease of use and flexible pricing of cloud platforms like Caspio thankfully make this possible today.

A Cleveland news outlet used Caspio’s map mashup to create a helpful guide to damage from a rare earthquake in the region.

Simply put, while events like Sandy are tragic, we are lucky that when they do happen, relief efforts can now be magnified thanks to the fact that flexible, scalable, mobile-aware cloud-based app platforms are now readily available. Cloud applications and data solutions can speed the time to response, connect those distanced by disasters, and even help save lives.