BlackBerry lauded for enabling disaster recovery efforts

By Chris Gullo
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blackberryResearch In Motion (RIM) is this year's recipient of the International Medical Corps' Global Impact award for aiding disaster-recovery efforts worldwide with its BlackBerry smartphone. The 2011 Annual Awards Celebration takes place in Los Angeles next week.

International Medical Corps (IMC) is a non-profit organisation that provides first-response healthcare and medical assistance to areas affected by war, disease, or natural disasters. Other recipients at this year's ceremony include Darfur country director Dr. Solomon Kebede and Wells Fargo.

On the BlackBerry's effectiveness in global health, "You just don't know what kind of a setting you're going to arrive in," Dr. Neil Joyce told BizCommunity. Dr Joyce helped lead the IMC's Emergency Response Team in Haiti after last year's earthquake. "As we arrived in Port-au-Prince, the cellphones were not working, but I was able to send messages with my BlackBerry smartphone."

Dr. Joyce was also part of the disaster relief efforts in Japan earlier this year, and used his BlackBerry to communicate with hospitals and physicians, and direct material and equipment to relief areas.

Margaret Aguirre, director of IMC's global communications, told BizCommunity that utilizing social media during the relief efforts was crucial to their operation. "Being able to upload pictures to social media was really important," she said. "Our social media posts in the early days enabled military personnel to know the needs of various humanitarian groups on the ground and where to direct assets."

While BlackBerry devices proved helpful in the trying situations discussed above, fewer and fewer physicians in the US are using the devices, which were as of May 2010, still the most popular smartphone in healthcare, according to Manhattan Research. This year the research firm said 75 percent of US physicians owned some kind of Apple device.

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Read the BizCommunity article RIM's award here.