The ASPR Lifeline Facebook Application Challenge


When a disaster strikes the connections someone has to other people can make one of the most significant differences in how well they do during an event and how well they recover after. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) would like to create a Facebook application that helps individuals be sure that those connections are in place so that they are better prepared for the next catastrophic event.

ASPR is the office within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that is responsible for leading the nation in preparing for, responding to and recovering from the adverse health effects of public health emergencies such as natural disasters,  pandemics and bioterrorist events. Building community resilience is one of ASPR’s primary missions; knowing who to count on for help during a catastrophic event and establishing strong connections within one’s network are two ways individuals can play an important role in building resilient communities.  ASPR challenges you to help improve community resilience by designing a Facebook application that makes it easy for people to create their own emergency support network and provides users with useful tools in preparing for and responding to emergencies.


The Challenge

For this challenge we are calling all developers, entrepreneurs, social networking fanatics, and the public health and emergency response communities to develop a dynamic Facebook application that identifies and connects friends on Facebook who are willing to be ‘Lifelines.’  A Lifeline is a friend who will agree to check on you in an emergency, provide you with shelter in the case you need it and post updates about your well-being on your Facebook wall. In the aftermath of the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, a tremendous number of people used Facebook to post and share information about those potentially affected by the disasters. We want to create an app that will refine and better support this phenomenon as it can provide a venue for emotional support to a victim’s network and help to decompress traditional channels of communication which are frequently overwhelmed during emergencies. 


To register for this challenge, please visit… and sign up!


The Lifeline Facebook application should involve a four step process:

1) Identify three Lifelines

    *   Lifelines should be three Facebook friends who agree to be an individual’s emergency contact and act on their behalf in the event of an emergency.

    *   Once a person has agreed to be a Lifeline they should be identified as such on the requestors Facebook page.


2) Complete a personal preparedness plan (optional)

    *   The user should be prompted to complete an abbreviated version of the<> emergency preparedness plan questionnaire<> (this will be provided to registered teams)

    *   None of the information generated by the questionnaire should be retained by the app – information should be used only for the sake of generating a digital preparedness card and sharing that card with one’s Lifelines.


3) Share your personal preparedness plan with your Lifelines (optional)

    *   While your Lifeline’s appear on your Facebook homepage for all of your Facebook friends to see, your personal preparedness plan should only be accessible by your Lifelines.


4) Share the Lifeline application with others

    *   You should be acknowledged on Facebook as being prepared (for instance by a badge or News Feed message asserting “I’m prepared, are you?”) encouraging others to use the Lifeline app with their Facebook friends.


Additional accolades will be given to developers whose application:

 *   Incorporates the GIS locating or tagging features of Facebook to enhance the capability of the app

 *   Increases the likelihood of decompressing traditional channels of communication

 *   Can be used without a smart-phone or high rates of cellular network bandwidth (e.g. SMS text)

 *   Can be incorporated into other (existing or conceptual) systems of emergency response (e.g. Ushahidi<>, FrontlineSMS<>, GiveForward<> or Google Person Finder<>)

 *   Exists in an open source format

 *   Requests minimal access to Facebook profile information

 *   Offers redundancy by connecting with other social technology (e.g. Twitter, SMS text, email)

 *   Is easy to navigate on a mobile phone and on existing mobile Facebook apps

 *   Encourages a fun or game-like atmosphere for the user

 *   Enhances community resilience

 *   Promotes of the development of emotional & psychological support network  for friends of a disaster victim

 *   Personalizes the look and/or feel of an individual’s preparedness plan


To register for this challenge, please visit… and sign up! 


Contact Information

Deb Linton<> Health 2.0



Dr. Nicole Lurie – Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (HHS)

John Yi – Facebook

Craig Fugate – FEMA Administrator (DHS)

Karen DeSalvo – Commissioner of Health for the City of New Orleans


Additional Resources



Facebook Developers<>

Disaster Assistance<>




Google Person Finder<>



First place: $10,000

Plus a chance to attend an event with the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.

Plus free passes to the Spring Health 2.0 Conference

Second place: $5,000

Third place: $1,000

Winners will have the opportunity to work with the US Government and Facebook to get their app in the hands of citizens in time for next year’s hurricane season.

Terms and Conditions


By submitting a technology product as an entry in response to this Challenge, each team and each team member represents and warrants that:

 *   The team and its members are the sole authors, creators, and owners of the technology product submitted as an entry;

 *   None of the intellectual property rights in the technology product, or any portion thereof, submitted in the entry has been assigned or transferred to anyone that is not a member of the team;

 *   The technology product, through its creation and its submission as an entry, does not violate any applicable laws;

 *   The technology product, through its creation and its submission as an entry, does not infringe upon or violate intellectual property rights held by any third person or party;

 *   The technology product submitted as an entry comply with appropriate policies, procedures and protections for access to relevant data sets to ensure all privacy requirements, intellectual property considerations, and sponsor restrictions are met.


By submitting an entry in response to this Challenge, each team and each team member agrees to:

 *   Comply with and be bound by the official rules and decisions of the sponsors;

 *   Release and hold harmless the sponsors, its officers, its employees, and agents (including but not limited to, any judges or evaluators of the entries) from any claims, expenses, and liability, including but not limited to infringement of copyright, trademark, or other intellectual property rights, property damage, or death or personal injury arising out of or relating to the Challenge; and,

 *   Indemnify, defend and hold harmless the sponsors from and against any and all claims, expenses, and liabilities arising from or relating to participation in the Challenge.


Each entrant retains title and full ownership in and to their submission. Entrant expressly reserves all intellectual property rights not expressly granted under this agreement. By participating in the Challenge, each entrant hereby irrevocably grants to Sponsor and Administrator a limited, non-exclusive, royalty free, worldwide, license and right to use the Submission to the extent necessary to administer the Challenge, and to publicly perform and publicly display the Submission, including, without limitation, for advertising and promotional purposes relating to the Challenge.



The sponsors and judges are not responsible for:

 *   Any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by teams, data sources, Challenge administrators, printing errors, equipment failures or programming problems associated with this Challenge;

 *   Technical failures, including, but not limited to, disconnections in network hardware, software, or phone lines, interruptions, or other malfunctions;

 *   Unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Challenge,

 *   Technical or human error which may occur in the administration of the Challenge or the processing of entries; or

 *   Any injury to person or damage to property which may be caused by participating in the Challenge, including but not limited to, receipt or use of any award.



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