Google Inc was quick in re-launching its ‘Person Finder’ service to help victims of the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Just a few hours after initial news of the serious impact of the weather disturbance to the central region of the Asian country on Friday (November 8), the giant search engine firm immediately announced how the service would be used by victims and their families.
Logically, Google anticipated massive destruction of properties and communication infrastructure. This was not surprising as Typhoon Haiyan was expected to be the most devastating typhoon to hit any place in the world. With its unique and incredible strength, it has been regarded as the strongest typhoon or hurricane to ever make a landfall in recorded history of the world.
Google’s Person Finder
Person Finder was developed and built by Google to aid communication between disaster victims and their families outside the vicinity. It was first launched in January 2010 after the destructive earthquake that hit Haiti. It listed names of people in the area who survived the calamity. Those names were made searchable by anyone online through the service. Thus, people from outside Haiti were able to know if their families, relatives, and friends in the area survived the catastrophe.
The same service was also rolled out following the 2011 earthquake in New Zealand. That same year, it was instrumental in locating survivors of the great earthquake and massive tsunamis in Japan. In 2012, the Crisis Response team of Google infused an interactive map into the service to better make sense of weather phenomenon following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.
Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines
Today, Google’s Person Finder is regarded as among the most useful tools for people who have loved ones that were affected by Typhoon Haiyan. It is most helpful to those in Manila and other unaffected cities in the Philippines as well as to those in the US and other countries who have friends, relatives, and families in the areas hardly hit by the typhoon, which was considered a Category 5 hurricane by US standards.
As of press time, almost all forms of communications are still non-operational in most of those devastated areas. Electricity is also out and is expected to be offered again to households at least after a year. Google and other local media organizations are now making it possible for victims to inform their families and friends that they survived the historical typhoon.
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