Department of HHS Issues “Facebook Lifeline Challenge” to Help Connect Loved Ones in Emergencies

Author: Mary Pat Whaley
Published: September 05, 2011 at 5:39 pm

As a part of the Federal Government’s year-old crowd-sourcing effort, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) has issued the “Lifeline Facebook Application Challenge." The challenge is an open contest to “all developers, entrepreneurs, social networking fanatics, and the public health and emergency response communities” to develop a Facebook application to assign and manage what the office calls “Lifelines” on the popular social network. Lifelines are friends or family members that can check on you in case of an emergency, provide temporary housing should you need it, and use Facebook updates to share information with other friends and family.

The ASPR, headed by Dr. Nicole Lurie, is the office within DHHS that helps prepare for and respond to the adverse effects of public health emergencies. The office hopes to leverage the estimated 220-plus million American users of Facebook to provide information and comfort to friends and family of people in potentially affected areas or populations, while also mitigating the demands on more traditional communication systems like phone lines and cellular systems.

To encourage applicants, prizes include a first prize of $10,000 as well as a chance to attend an event with Dr. Lurie and free passes to the Spring Health 2.0 Conference3, and cash prizes for second and third place.

Applicants must adhere to the guideline regarding privacy and transparency in the challenge. More information is available by contacting Deb Linton at Health 2.0 ( or on the Challenge website.


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