Google Person Finder helps people reconnect with friends and loved ones in the aftermath of natural and humanitarian disasters.
Google Person Finder is a project of Google Crisis Response, part of the tech giant’s non-profit arm, Google.org. When a crisis strikes and people are separated from each other they may let the world know they are looking for someone with Google Person Finder. As the tool is being populated, you can either search for someone or share information about someone’s whereabouts. The tool includes a disclaimer stating that Google doesn’t review or verify any information, and all submitted details are public to all users. With this great tool responders may embed Google Person Finder in a website; download data from Google Person Finder; and upload data into Google Person Finder all in effort to help people find each other in the aftermath of a disaster.
Google Person Finder has been activated for use following the deadly Boston Marathon explosions Monday afternoon. Shortly after launching, the Person Finder homepage says it’s tracking about 800 records. According to Mashable.com, “If you can’t find the information you’re looking for from Google Person Finder, the Boston Athletic Association shares marathon runners’ recent times and locations. The Red Cross has a similar feature to Google’s Person Finder called Safe and Well, which is currently being used to share whereabouts as well… For Marathoners stranded in Boston due to flight cancellations or other complications, Boston.com has set up a Google Doc where people can express need or offer their homes to guests.”
Google Person Finder is an open source software meaning that any developer can create their own instance of Google Person Finder after a disaster. Person Finder runs on the Google App Engine platform, and it has been launched in over 40 languages. Google does their best to make sure it’s available in the most commonly spoken languages in disaster prone countries. This is just one more instance of how Google is creatively using technology to change the world for the better.