Google has announced that it is providing its Google Person Finder service to help in disaster relief operations in Uttarkhand. The northern India state has been seeing torrential rains since the last week which has caused widespread flooding and destruction. The estimate on the number of lives lost is now over 150 and many more are missing.
While the army and the National Disaster Management Authority are doing all they can, Google is also trying to chip in.
Google Person Finder is a web application that allows individuals to post and search for the status of relatives or friends affected by a disaster.
All data entered into Google Person Finder is available to everyone and is accessible by anyone. The program also lets the press, NGOs and others contribute to the database and receive updates by using the Person Finder API.
People then looking for someone can go to the site and search the database.
Websites can choose to embed Google Person Finder as a gadget on their own pages helping to spread the common database.
The Google Person Finder page for the Uttarkhand floods is available in Hindi and English.
Google Person Finder was built by Google engineers in response to the January 2010 Haiti earthquake in order to help those affected by the earthquake connect with their loved ones. It has been used for other disasters like Chile earthquake in 2010, Pakistan floods in 2010 and the Boston Marathon Bombings in 2013.
Google last week announced Project Loon, which apart from providing internet in rural areas is expected to provide internet during times when there are disasters and internet access is usually cut off.