Google’s Person Finder

Over the last couple of months there has been a series of natural disasters across the globe that have caused devastation on nearly every continent the human race resides upon. As these disaster take our homes, destroy cities and take loved ones from us, social media is being used as a tool in the reporting, clean-up and finding of people in these terrible disasters. Social networking sites such as Twitter are used as a way of pushing live news updates around the world (via the #tag, example). The collaboration of these individual micro blogs containing snapshots of information provided family members with reassurance, but also the wider community an incite into what was going on in the minutes, hours and days after such a natural disaster. In a generation where newspaper sales have decreased, more and more people are harnessing the collective intelligence of social media to provide them with an overview of what is going on.

Below is a infographic from Mashable on how social media is used in general with an emergency…. Click to find out more:

Social Media Emergency Infographic

How Social Media Is Used During Emergencies

But it’s not just these large social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook being used to combat issues raised by natural disasters, large corporations are helping a hand in the relief effort of a natural disaster, once such example is Google, who hours after the recent earthquakes in Haiti, Christchurch and now Japan have set up a service to find relatives who may be missing due to the disasters.

Google’s Person Finder:

The website uses collaborative techniques to allow families to  search for a missing persons or on the other hand for a missing person to put their details on the site in order to be found or to relieve the stress placed on the family members. During this weeks earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Google aided the Red Cross who were initially overwhelmed with people using its Family Links website, which helps track people during an emergency. Within a couple of hours Google stepped in, launching a version of its person finder tool for the earthquake, Person Finder: 2011 Japan Earthquake, the tool can be used in Japanese or English.

Google People Finder Home Page

Google People Finder Home Page

Although an application like Person Finder has greater value than most traditional web applications it is still able to meet one of the 8 core patterns of the evolution of Web 2.0. According to Tim O’Reilly this core pattern, which is one of 8 is based around the ideal of enriching the user’s experience. Google’s application is a great example of harnessing collective intelligence as more people use the service the greater number of ‘someones’ will appear on the application. This combining of the records enables the user to find exactly what there look for; a family member.

As we start to have a greater understanding as to ways of using web 2.0, a greater number of social media collaboration tools will be used in a variety of situations that intertwine within our daily lives. Google’s person finder is just one of many that have changed the way we deal with emergencies and most importantly as a tool in aiding the finding  of  what means most in live.. our loved ones.

Want more on how Social Media has helped during the Japan earthquake then try these links:

How Twitter & Facebook Helped

Vital Lifelines

People Turn To The Web In Times Of Crisis


How To Follow The Japans Disaster Online




2 thoughts on “Google’s Person Finder

  1. Another interesting innovation by Google. I wonder how many people would use it if a disaster occurred in a 3rd world country where there aren’t many foreigners.

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