Google’s product manager, Kei Kawai received confirmation of his grandfather’s survival after the massive earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in March, using Google’s disaster relief database- Person Finder.
Google responded within two hours of the disaster. While Japan’s eastern coast was still under water, the company launched Person Finder . “We had employees on the ground who were experiencing the disasters first-hand and wanted to do something about it,” said Christine Chen, a Google spokeswoman. “Our company mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, and information about crises is included in that.”
Person Finder is an open database working to match information requests about people affected. Developed in 2010 after the Haiti earthquake, the database was extended for earthquakes in Chili, China and New Zealand. The newest addition to Person Finder is the acceptance of photographs of lists of missing people or survivors that were posted at evacuation centers. Google staff members entered names from the photos by hand. Google then extended the effort to volunteers when the numbers grew to over 10,000 pictures.
“That was a pretty powerful moment,” Kei Kawai said in an interview. “We’ve had a lot of feedback from users, we know that it’s working, but it’s a little different for yourself to see it working.”
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