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Google People Finder, Ushahidi Crisis Mapping Software Launched for Japan Earthquake Earthquake in Japan: Help Google and Ushahidi Rescue Trapped Citizens and Reunite Families Google People Finder, Ushahidi Crisis Mapping Software Launched for Japan Earthquake Earthquake in Japan: Help Google and Ushahidi Rescue Trapped Citizens and Reunite Families

Google People Finder, Ushahidi Crisis Mapping Software Launched for Japan Earthquake Earthquake in Japan: Help Google and Ushahidi Rescue Trapped Citizens and Reunite Families

by Alex Goldmark
March 14, 2011



The most urgent need in the aftermath of the earthquake off the coast of Japan is to find people who are trapped, and connect citizens who are safe with their worrying family, friends, and loved ones. As Japan mobilizes a massive emergency relief and aid response to the 8.9 magnitude earthquake, technology companies are springing into action, applying lessons from the earthquake in Haiti. Google's People Finder and Ushahidi's crisis map are two critical online tools that can, respectively, help reunite loved ones and save lives of citizens who are still trapped.

Google has launched a "People Finder" app they hastily created created after the Haiti earthquake. You enter the name of a person who is missing—in either English or Japanese—or the name of a person you have information about. So, if you hear someone is safe who might be hard for their loved ones to reach, enter their name here to calm some anxious minds. If you have a website here's the code to embed in your site or adapt as you can so more people know this is an option.

As of 5am Pacific Time, People Finder was getting a couple hundred new updates every 10 minutes or so and climbing fast from 4500 records.

The original crisis mapping tool, Ushahidi, has already launched a local Japanese platform. Anyone on the ground can text in the location of a trapped person, and these locations are then collected on a map. You can also text in where to find aid, a pop-up hospital or a precarious building that should be avoided.

This tool also launched incredibly fast after the Haiti earthquake.Volunteers mobilized to translate all the French and Creole texts to help aid workers find victims in an impressive proof of the power of crowd-sourced technology aid from afar. Here's a video about that worth watching.

Fast Company lists a few other technologies mobilizing to assist the victims.

Spread the word, these databases only work if everyone knows about them.

Image: USGS.

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