Facebook apps aren’t usually a matter of life or death, but a new initiative from the federal government wants developers to create a few that are. It is launching a competition for new Facebook applications to help people prepare for and survive emergencies, whether the potential tragedy is due to a personal medical catastrophe or from a disaster made by man or nature.

“We’re challenging our country’s most innovative developers to create apps that help people use Facebook not only to reach out to friends and family for any kind of help they may need after emergency but also to become better prepared in the first place,” said Assistant Secretary Nicole Lurie, M.D., a rear admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) issued the ASPR Lifeline Facebook Application Developer Challenge in collaboration with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It runs throughout National Preparedness Month in September and the remainder of the 2011 hurricane season, closing Nov. 4.

The person or team developing the best application will receive $10,000 from HHS along with other benefits. Second place will be awarded $5,000, and third place will receive $1,000. Additionally, the winning developer will work with the U.S. government and Facebook to get the app into use within weeks.

All submissions will be reviewed by judges from Facebook, ASPR, FEMA, and the New Orleans Health Commissioner.

Related Link:

ASPR Challenge –

Photo of Hurricane Eugene, Aug. 2011, courtesy of NOAA/NASA GOES Project