NJ Tech Community Pulls Together After Hurricane Sandy (Update 7)

 The NJ Tech community is awesome. The founders of the NJ Tech Meetup and the Jersey Shore Tech Meetup sprang into action to try to help their communities soon after Superstorm Sandy finally passed.  NJ News Commons  at Montclair State offered a backup newsroom to NJTechWeekly.com when we didn’t have power, and we cannot thank Debbie Galant enough for coming to the rescue.

We’ve learned that SHI is giving back. The Somerset-based cloud company, which largely escaped disruption, is offering to help organizations affected by  Sandy get back on their feet by making free cloud computing services available so public and private organizations can quickly and securely gain access to the applications or IT functions they might have lost in the storm, Thai Lee, CEO, said in a blog post.

“Recovery will be long, but giving displaced or affected businesses access to their IT infrastructure will allow them to maintain business continuity while they rebuild,” she said.

We also heard, that Phone.com, a NJ’s startup now operating out of the NJIT Enterprise Development Center, is offering VoIP and cloud-based telephone accounts for service for up to one year to as many as 100 small and medium sized businesses in New Jersey that have been affected by Superstorm Sandy.

Even if their own brick-and-mortar locations are in disrepair, businesses whose office communications hardware or systems have been knocked out by storm-related coastal surge, rain, wind or other damage from Sandy can use Phone.com to re-establish their presence with their customers.

“SMBs and SOHOs can stay viable and remain in business if they maintain a telephone presence despite having their buildings wiped out, unusable during repair or left without electrical power for weeks at a time, and that’s where Phone.com can help,” said Ari Rabban, co-founder and CEO. 

“We would require a business name, address and owner contact information, and we would need a credit card for incidental expenses,” said Rabban, who recently joined the board of directors of the New Jersey Technology Council.

Immediately following Sandy’s fall along the NJ Shore, NJ Tech Weekly.com received this note from Bret Morgan of Cowerks and founder of the Jersey Shore Tech Meetup Thursday  Nov.1, right after Sandy hit the coast:

“We just launched this about 2 hours ago – http://restoretheshore.cowerking.com and already have raised $3000+ for the Red Cross.” It’s a crowd funding site Morgan programmed built on Selfstarter – the platform “the Lockitron guys whipped together and open sourced a few weeks back.” Morgan also said he was working with a lot of local leaders in Asbury Park to raise money, volunteers and essentials for affected families. In a later communication, Morgan noted that Cowerks, the Asbury Park coworking space, escaped damage. We’ve checked in on this crowd funding site and as of November 10 the site says: Great news! We’ve exceeded our fundrasing goal and are sold out of shirts and hoodies. The group raised more than $130,000 for shore relief . Good going NJ Tech community!

Aaron Price, NJ Tech Meetup organizer and crafterMania founder, told members that badly affected Hoboken–NJ’s up and coming tech hub– is already coming back as the tech community organizes to help the greater community as well as its own. “The few with power have chipped in amazingly to offer free food, drinks, and power to one another,” he said. Price organized an email “help list” via the Meetup site. He asks that you contact him apnjtech@craftermania.com and CC: Jeff Frommer jeff@njtech.me with things you need or things you can offer, such as office space, a spare room for someone or a displaced family, food, drink. Be sure to include your area, he said.

“We will consolidate and send out as soon as possible.” Not on the 2000 plus NJ Tech Meetup mailing list? Contact either Aaron or Jeff or join the meetup. Aaron says: “please keep [requests/gives] short and sweet. I have only small pockets of internet access and limited power.”

Several members of the tech community came together to launch HealHoboken.org to help the newly emerging tech hub come back after the storm. 

From the Meetup site: There are 2 things you can do. Please choose 1 or both:

By midday Nov. 10, 2012 Heal Hoboken collected more than $16,000 for this good cause.

In a note, organizer of the NJ Entrepreneurship and Tech Startup Meetup Zion Kim took a page from the NJ Tech Meetup book and began a needs exchange list. He said: “Please share with us your area, what you need, or what you can offer, anything helps! (ie office space, a spare room for someone or a displaced family, food, drink, hugs, milk, power, high fives, again anything helps!) I will be maintaining the event regularly as primary means of communication. Link: http://www.meetup.com/NJ-Entrepreneurship-and-Tech-Startup/events/89855892/

Also, JuiceTank Innovation Lab is opening its doors for anyone that needs a place to work for all of next week. “You are more than welcome to come work, charge your things, or hang out. We do not have internet just yet but I will keep everyone posted! {As of 11/5 Juice Tank now has Internet.} If you would like to stop by please email coworking@juicetank.com or register to let us know you’re coming. We are open from 9 AM – 6PM!”

Here are a couple of updates from NJ’s larger tech companies, thanks to NJBIZ.

Ridgefield Park based Samsung Electronics North America pledged $3 million to the American Red Cross via ABC TV’s Day of Giving, with viewer donations matched by the company up to $3 million. The company is also matching employee gifts.

Parsippany-based T-Mobile is providing cell phones with unlimited domestic calling services and additional phone chargers to all American Red Cross shelters in NJ. Red Cross donations by the company and customers should exceed $300 thousand.

ATT which has a large presence in NJ, said it had contributed $1 MILLION to Governor Christi’s Sandy Relief to help displaced victims from the shore and much more. This contribution is in addition to a $100,000 contribution for the NJ Food Bank.

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