Google Person Finder – Help for Loved Ones after a Disaster
Being connected to our family and friends is a top reason for people to get on the Internet. We love that we can see pictures of our grandbabies on the other side of the world, our moms and dads working away, even our brothers and sisters out on the ships.
That usefulness becomes much greater when a disaster strikes, like the recent earthquake in Nepal, or the hurricanes and tornadoes that go through North America every year.
Even as little as 10 years ago, there was no way to know if our loved ones were okay. Once the phone lines were down, all we could do was wait and pray. Now, with cell phone and satellite technology, we still have some inroads into the situation and can hear from our loved ones sooner. Maybe even get some help to them sooner. Google has created a wonderful tool to help with this. It’s called the Google Person Finder and you can find it at www.google.org/personfinder.
It works as a digital billboard. Those of us that are a bit older might remember disaster billboards; where you’d post a note with the name and description of who you’re looking for. Maybe in a day or two, the Red Cross or someone else might write a note on your note that they’ve found them, or maybe bad news. Person Finder works like that, only much faster because it’s the Internet. So instead of waiting a few days or weeks, you might get news in a few hours or minutes. Hopefully good news.
It also works better because you can include more information about your loved one. There’s a form to fill out, a place to attach a picture, and a website profile, like their Facebook page address. Disaster response organizations can use all this detail to make sure they’re reporting about the right person.
On the disaster side, people can post information about themselves or people they’ve helped. Again, it’s a form so that makes sure there is as much information as possible. There is also a spot to upload a picture of the person and to relay a message from them. There’s even a way to show their precise location on a map. That might help you get aid to them quicker.
I hope none of you ever have to use this tool. Yet, it’s important that you know it’s there. Take care.
First Published: The Guysborough Journal, Vol . 21, No. 17, April 29, 2015