Google has launched a Person Finder service for use by those caught up in the recent earthquakes and tsunami in Japan. The website, available in both English and Japanese, is to be used like a directory and message board in order for people to find their loved ones or for victims to leave a message saying they are alright. The service can be embedded onto websites and social networks, such as Facebook, to reach as many people as possible. Person Finder was launched to try and help support agencies match up and compare information from different people in order to reunite families and friends.
Since its launch, the service has gained over 6000 records and that number should continue to grow. This is not the first time Google has tried to help victims of natural disasters, during the February earthquake in Christchurch, NZ, the company also made the service available.
The format is quite simple, a user can look for someone or provide information they have. If the 'I'm looking for someone' option is chosen a page is shown to search by name. Once a searched has been carried out, a number of status updates are available, one of which reads 'Someone has received information that this person is alive'. Further information, including posts taken from Facebook and Twitter, are available when a name is clicked on.
If the option, 'I have information about someone' is chosen then the user is presented with the option to provide a family name, given name and some information about the status of the person which will be submitted to the database.