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Oklahoma tornadoes prompt all to consider safety apps

The recent Oklahoma tornadoes have the nation gripped and mourning, and now considering preparations for their own lives. Moore officials are asking people to donate to reputable charities – we’ve included a list where you can give.

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Oklahoma tornadoes and safety apps

One of my first thoughts upon seeing the destruction of the tornadoes in Oklahoma was to wonder if friends and their loved ones in the state were making it through the storms safely. Social media answered my questions about most of them fairly quickly, but communication can be one of the most challenging aspects of a disaster situation.

The top priority, of course, is communication with and between emergency first responders. Then, people want and need to be able to locate and know the status of friends and family. There are a number of phone apps available to assist in this effort – including social media.

Some of the apps focus more on providing information to emergency personnel in case they find you and your phone, others focus on communicating quickly with a variety of people you choose. And still others provide information on helping you provide basic first aid when emergency personnel have not yet reached you.

Safety apps everyone should have

I keep a couple of my favorite apps on my phone and updated. There are several “In Case of Emergency” apps you can choose among based upon your phone platform. My favorite app to update friends and family is Microsoft’s free HelpBridge app which not only allows you to set up custom lists from among your contacts to contact quickly through a variety of platforms simultaneously, but also allows you to donate to a number of disaster recovery organizations easily through the app.

Another of my favorite emergency apps is the American Red Cross First Aid app. The free app not only helps you know how to react to an emergency situation, but gives tips on how to prepare for them and offers tests so that you can assess your preparedness.

Apps such as HelpBridge and the First Aid app are also a good way for you and all of the employees in your company to be better prepared and communicate with one another. With HelpBridge, for instance, you can set up lists to quickly pass emergency information to your employees to instruct them and update them on critical information.

While no app will help in some situations, every bit of preparedness improves your chances of surviving a disaster situation and communicating with those whom you most care about during and after the event.

Note from AG: if you feel called to help, we ask you to donate financially to the reputable organization of your choice, and if you are searching for a missing relative or friend, check Red Cross Safe and Well’s website. Here are some ways to donate – texting is the easiest.

American Red Cross: 

  • Donate to the Red Cross Disaster Relief fund here
  • Donate $10 by text to the Disaster Relief fund by texting “REDCROSS” to 90999 (donation will show up on your phone bill)
  • 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767); for Spanish speakers, 1-800-257-7575

Religious Organizations:

Salvation Army

  • Donate to SalvationArmyUSA.org.
  • Text the word STORM to 80888 to make a $10 donation (will show up on your phone bill).
  • Call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769).

United Way of Central Oklahoma

  • Disaster relief fund donations may be made online here.
  • For more information:  Karla Bradshaw at (405) 523-3534 or kbradshaw@unitedwayokc.org
  • A disaster relief fund is being activated as of May 21 so that individuals can specifically donated to tornado relief-and-recovery efforts, the organization says on its site.

Feeding America

  • Donate here to feed locals in their time of need.
  • Call 1-800-910-5524.

Convoy of Hope

  • Donate online here on their website or through  HopeMob (crowdfunding site).
  • Call 1-800-988-0664

AmeriCares

  • Donate to the Emergency Response team online here .
  • Donate $10 by texting the word LIVE to 25383.
  • Call 1-800-486-HELP.

David Holmes, owner of Intrepid Solutions, has over 20 years experience planning for, avoiding, and solving crises in the public policy, political, and private sectors. David is also a professional mediator and has worked in the Texas music scene.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Charity Kountz

    May 22, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Great article and I agree. I downloaded the Red Cross app yesterday as soon as I heard about it. It’s a great app and helped my husband and I to know that our nearest shelter is 30 minutes away. Very good info to have.

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Big retailers are opting for refunds instead of returns

(BUSINESS NEWS) Due to increased shipping costs, big companies like Amazon and Walmart are opting to give out a refund rather than accepting small items returned.

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Package delivery people holding deliveries. Refund instead of returns are common now.

The holidays are over, and now some people are ready to return an item that didn’t quite work out or wasn’t on their Christmas list. Whatever the reason, some retailers are giving customers a refund and letting them keep the product, too.

When Vancouver, Washington resident, Lorie Anderson, tried returning makeup from Target and batteries from Walmart she had purchased online, the retailers told her she could keep or donate the products. “They were inexpensive, and it wouldn’t make much financial sense to return them by mail,” said Ms. Anderson, 38. “It’s a hassle to pack up the box and drop it at the post office or UPS. This was one less thing I had to worry about.”

Amazon.com Inc., Walmart Inc., and other companies are changing the way they handle returns this year, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The companies are using artificial intelligence (AI) to weigh the costs of processing physical returns versus just issuing a refund and having customers keep the item.

For instance, if it costs more to ship an inexpensive or larger item than it is to refund the purchase price, companies are giving customers a refund and telling them to keep the products also. Due to an increase in online shopping, it makes sense for companies to change how they manage returns.

Locus Robotics chief executive Rick Faulk told the Journal that the biggest expense when it comes to processing returns is shipping costs. “Returning to a store is significantly cheaper because the retailer can save the freight, which can run 15% to 20% of the cost,” Faulk said.

But, returning products to physical stores isn’t something a lot of people are wanting to do. According to the return processing firm Narvar, online returns increased by 70% in 2020. With people still hunkered down because of the pandemic, changing how to handle returns is a good thing for companies to consider to reduce shipping expenses.

While it might be nice to keep the makeup or batteries for free, don’t expect to return that new PS5 and get to keep it for free, too. According to WSJ, a Walmart spokesperson said the company lets someone keep a refunded item only if the company doesn’t plan on reselling it. And, besides taking the economic costs into consideration, the companies look at the customer’s purchase history as well.

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Google workers have formed company’s first labor union

(BUSINESS NEWS) A number of Google employees have agreed to commit 1% of their salary to labor union dues to support employee activism and fight workplace discrimination.

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Google complex with human sized chessboard, where a labor union has been formed.

On Monday morning, Google workers announced that they have formed a union with the support of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the largest communications and media labor union in the U.S.

The new union, Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) was organized in secret for about a year and formed to support employee activism, and fight discrimination and unfairness in the workplace.

“From fighting the ‘real names’ policy, to opposing Project Maven, to protesting the egregious, multi-million dollar payouts that have been given to executives who’ve committed sexual harassment, we’ve seen first-hand that Alphabet responds when we act collectively. Our new union provides a sustainable structure to ensure that our shared values as Alphabet employees are respected even after the headlines fade,” stated Program Manager Nicki Anselmo in a press release.

AWU is the first union in the company’s history, and it is open to all employees and contractors at any Alphabet company in the United States and Canada. The cost of membership is 1% of an employee’s total compensation, and the money collected will be used to fund the union organization.

In a response to the announcement, Google’s Director of People Operations, Kara Silverstein, said, “We’ve always worked hard to create a supportive and rewarding workplace for our workforce. Of course, our employees have protected labor rights that we support. But as we’ve always done, we’ll continue engaging directly with all our employees.”

Unlike other labor unions, the AWU is considered a “Minority Union”. This means it doesn’t need formal recognition from the National Labor Relations Board. However, it also means Alphabet can’t be forced to meet the union’s demands until a majority of employees support it.

So far, the number of members in the union represents a very small portion of Google’s workforce, but it’s growing every day. When the news of the union was first announced on Monday, roughly 230 employees made up the union. Less than 24 hours later, there were 400 employees in the union, and now that number jumped to over 500 employees.

Unions among Silicon Valley’s tech giants are rare, but labor activism is slowly picking up speed, especially with more workers speaking out and organizing.

“The Alphabet Workers Union will be the structure that ensures Google workers can actively push for real changes at the company, from the kinds of contracts Google accepts to employee classification to wage and compensation issues. All issues relevant to Google as a workplace will be the purview of the union and its members,” stated the AWU in a press release.

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Ticketmaster caught red-handed hacking, hit with major fines

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ticketmaster has agreed to pay $10 million to resolve criminal charges after hacking into a competitor’s network specifically to sabotage.

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Person open on hacking computer screen, typing on keyboard.

Live Nation’s Ticketmaster agreed to pay $10 million to resolve criminal charges after admitting to hacking into a competitor’s network and scheming to “choke off” the ticket seller company and “cut [victim company] off at the knees”.

Ticketmaster admitted hiring former employee, Stephen Mead, from startup rival CrowdSurge (which merged with Songkick) in 2013. In 2012, Mead signed a separation agreement to keep his previous company’s information confidential. When he joined Live Nation, Mead provided that confidential information to the former head of the Artist Services division, Zeeshan Zaidi, and other Ticketmaster employees. The hacking information shared with the company included usernames, passwords, data analytics, and other insider secrets.

“When employees walk out of one company and into another, it’s illegal for them to take proprietary information with them. Ticketmaster used stolen information to gain an advantage over its competition, and then promoted the employees who broke the law. This investigation is a perfect example of why these laws exist – to protect consumers from being cheated in what should be a fair market place,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.

In January 2014, Mead gave a Ticketmaster executive multiple sets of login information to Toolboxes, the competitor’s password-protected app that provides real-time data about tickets sold through the company. Later, at an Artists Services Summit, Mead logged into a Toolbox and demonstrated the product to Live Nation and Ticketmaster employees. Information collected from the Toolboxes were used to “benchmark” Ticketmaster’s offerings against the competitor.

“Ticketmaster employees repeatedly – and illegally – accessed a competitor’s computers without authorization using stolen passwords to unlawfully collect business intelligence,” said Acting U.S. Attorney DuCharme in a statement. “Further, Ticketmaster’s employees brazenly held a division-wide ‘summit’ at which the stolen passwords were used to access the victim company’s computers, as if that were an appropriate business tactic.”

The hacking violations were first reported in 2017 when CrowdSurge sued Live Nation for antitrust violations. A spokesperson told The Verge, “Ticketmaster terminated both Zaidi and Mead in 2017, after their conduct came to light. Their actions violated our corporate policies and were inconsistent with our values. We are pleased that this matter is now resolved.”

To resolve the case, Ticketmaster will pay a $10 million criminal penalty, create a compliance and ethics program, and report to the United States Attorney’s Office annually during a three-year term. If the agreement is breached, Ticketmaster will be charged with: “One count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, one count of computer intrusion for commercial advantage, one count of computer intrusion in furtherance of fraud, one count of wire fraud conspiracy and one count of wire fraud.”

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