As the death toll in Nepal soars above 1,900 people, rescue workers and fortunate civilians continue to try to find bodies under rubble. The 7.9 magnitude quake shook Nepal, bringing down historic structures and causing avalanches on Mount Everest.
Google is doing its part to help by launching its Person Finder tool, to helping worried people find their loved ones from crowd sourced information — if it exists.
The Person Finder tool is simple to use, allowing people who are less experienced with computers to be able to use it. It’s also accessible via a text message should someone not have access to a computer. On the computer, the service offers two large buttons, where the user indicates whether they are looking for someone or whether you have information about a person.
Google will do its best to find information on someone even if you only know part of a person’s name. If there is a match in its database, Google will take you to a miniature profile that Google has pieced together. If there is no match, you can create a new profile yourself.
The profile encourages users to post any information they might have on the person, including names, alternate names, sex, age, home address, or even helpful descriptions. Should the user have any pictures of the missing person, those can be uploaded too, and there is a field for linking to the missing person’s social network profiles. Google will even offer to send you notifications for any updates on the missing person.
The other button leads the user to a form where they can provide information on a missing person. Users just need to type in the person’s name and indicate the person’s status, leave a message for the person (or anyone looking for them), as well as the person’s last known location. You are asked to leave contact information in case anybody wants to communicate about the missing person.
Google isn’t alone in trying to help out during this natural disaster though; Facebook has also stepped up with its “Safety Check” feature, which provides similar functionality by simply pressing an “I’m safe” button from the Facebook app.