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The Harbor app. Photo: Courtesy of Harbor

A new app guides users through the basic steps needed to prepare for natural disasters.

Why it matters: 2020 has already set records for wildfires on the West Coast, and Hurricane Delta — the 25th named storm of the season — just made landfall along the Gulf Coast. But you can shield your family from the worst if you prepare first.

How it works: The Harbor app, which launched on Thursday, provides personalized risk assessments for different disasters based on your zip code.

  • In New York, for instance, that means events like floods, winter storms and hurricanes, whereas in a place like Hawaii you'll be prompted to prepare for volcanoes and tsunamis.
  • The app leads you through a day-by-day checklist of what you need to do to prepare for disasters, from setting up emergency contacts to laying in supplies of food, water and medicine.

What they're saying: "These events are going to affect everyone, and they need to be prepared for that," says Dan Kessler, Harbor's CEO.

  • Kessler previously worked at Headspace, and Harbor bears some similarities to the popular mediation app, from its relaxing, cottony visuals to the way it gamifies a quotidian activity with constant reinforcement and a steadily rising level of difficulty.
  • He sees the app creating a new consumer category around digitized disaster prep. "There are a lot of people out there who own Pelotons but don't have fire extinguishers."

The big picture: According to a recent survey, a majority of Americans believe they'll be personally affected by a natural disaster over the next three to five years, but more than a quarter say they have taken no steps to prepare.

  • 2020's year of disaster is likely a sign of catastrophes to come — the Red Cross provided 807,454 nights of shelter to disaster victims through Sept. 25, already four times the annual average between 2011 and 2019.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 10, 2021 - Technology

Amazon and Apple pull the plug on Parler

Photo: Hollie Adams/Getty Images

Amazon has told Parler, a social media app that's become popular among conservatives and far-right extremists, that it would be cut off from its Amazon Web Services hosting by midnight Pacific Time on Sunday, BuzzFeed first reported and Amazon confirmed to Axios.

Driving the news: Earlier Saturday, Apple said it had suspended Parler from its App Store. Both companies cited concerns over threats of violence and inadequate content moderation on the service.

Updated 18 mins ago - World

Myanmar's deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to 4 years in prison

An anti-coup protest in Yangon, Myanmar.Photo: Hkun Lat/Getty Images

A Myanmar court sentenced the country's ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on Monday to four years in prison on charges of "inciting public unrest" and breaking COVID-19 protocols, per the New York Times.

Why it matters: It's the first of several verdicts that could result in the 76-year-old Nobel laureate being imprisoned for the rest of her life.

2 hours ago - World

Pope Francis denounces European governments' migrant response

Pope Francis adresses refugees at the Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos on Sunday. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis criticized European countries' response to migrants and asylum seekers during his visit to a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos Sunday.

Why it matters: The pope said "migration is a humanitarian crisis that concerns everyone," but little had changed in the global response to displaced peoples since his first visit to Lesbos five years ago, per a transcript of his remarks. "Human lives, real people, are at stake. ... let us stop this shipwreck of civilization!"