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12/20/2010
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Defense Department To Update Disaster Aid Site

The All Partners Access Network Web site will get improved navigation, registration, and search when it's upgraded on Dec. 30.

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The Department of Defense on Dec. 30 will release an update to its online tool that links members of the community that respond to international disasters.

The All Partners Access Network (APAN) is an online network that allows for information exchange and collaboration between the DoD and any country, organization, agency, or individual providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief that wouldn't normally have access to its secure systems and networks.

The network was particularly important in allowing the department to connect with aid agencies during the earthquake that devastated Haiti nearly a year ago, on Jan. 12, 2010.

Changes to the site include an overall modernized look and feel, as well as improvements in navigation. To the latter end, the DoD has streamlined the registration process so it can be completed in one page versus multiple pages, as well as added French and Spanish translation capability.

New tabs also ease navigation, including a "Communities" tab for browsing through community-based topics, and an "Exercises" tab for finding relief projects -- either through a quick search or by geographic region. The DoD also has improved the quick-search feature to allow for searches by people, groups, or the entire site, it said. Searching within a particular group also will be available.

APAN allows participants to establish an online identity to connect with others and share knowledge, training, experiences, and best practices. It also allows interested parties to discover what action is being taken by what individuals and organizations during an international disaster or crisis.

Through APAN, organizations and individuals also can request information from the DoD that might help them in their assistance efforts. Even in times of calm, APAN allows disaster-relief organizations, governments, and individuals to remain in contact to continue developing professional relationships and expertise, according to the DoD.

APAN will be offline Wednesday, Dec. 29, from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. EST so system administrators can update the site. The DoD assures that "the temporary disruption in service will be well worth the wait," according to the APAN Web site.

In the meantime, there's still time to provide feedback by testing out the beta version of the new site.

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