The federal government is challenging technology developers and entrepreneurs to develop a Facebook application aimed at helping healthcare providers, including nursing homes and hospitals, improve their disaster preparedness, response and recovery.

The “Lifeline Facebook App Challenge,” requires entrants to create an application that helps users invite three friends to become “lifelines,” or sources of support in the event of a natural disaster. Entrants are “encouraged to creatively leverage Facebook’s existing networking and geo-locating capabilities to enhance the app’s ability to increase personal preparedness, locate potential disaster victims, and streamline information sharing among social networks during disasters.”   

Registered applicants will be eligible to receive cash prizes of $10,000, $5,000, and  $1,000, respectively. Entrants can register for the contest at starting Aug. 15. Submissions are due by Sept. 15.

The competition is sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, which was created by the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The agency is under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Additional information also is available in the Federal Register.