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How Facebook, Google tools are helping ease Nepal jitters

April 27, 2015 17:24 IST

With many searching their loved ones after the Nepal earthquake, Google has launched its ‘person finder’ tool and Facebook has activated its ‘safety check’ feature to help locate and report missing persons.

Google Person Finder is an application that helps people reconnect with friends and loved ones in the aftermath of natural and humanitarian disasters.

In response to Saturday’s 7.9-magnitude earthquake in Nepal, Google has created a dedicated handle in its ‘Person Finder’app to help locate and report missing persons.

A link to the application has been provided on Google’ home page www.google.com.np. You can click on the ‘Resources related to Nepal Earthquake’ link below the search bar.

The website claims that it is currently tracking about 5,300 records, Ekantipur online reported.

One can search for a person by clicking on “I’m looking for someone” button. If no records are available for the person, a new ‘missing person’ record can be created.

Similarly, information on someone can be uploaded by clicking on “I have information on someone” button. Here detailed information about a person along with photo and status can be reported.

A project of Google Crisis Response, Google Person Finder uses a common format for sharing disaster information. The programme also has an option to subscribe to updates on a particular person.

The tool has become a regular feature of recent disasters, when reliable information is needed rapidly.

Google engineers first launched ‘Person Finder’ in response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, which killed more than 100,000 people.

But it had been under development for years, part of an open-source effort to solve a problem identified during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Since then it has popped up at a string of major emergencies, everything from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011 to the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.

It has been deployed twice before in India, for an earthquake in Jammu and Kashmir last year and flooding and mudslides in Uttarakhand a year earlier.

Meanwhile, Facebook has also activated its ‘Safety Check’ feature in the wake of the earthquake in Nepal.

The feature, launched in October, allows users to tell friends and family they are safe if they are in the middle of a disaster area.

Facebook engineers have developed the feature after the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami.

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