In response to the magnitude 7.8 earthquake which struck Nepal just two days ago, resulting in almost 10,000 victims and immeasurable destruction, Google has expanded its efforts to aid victims, their families, and responders of the disaster in their efforts to recover.
The company says it is committing $1 million to the response, and up to an additional $250,000 in employee gift-matching, providing much-needed assistance to those on the ground in the area. On the technical side, Google is rolling out many of the services previously employed in other disasters.
As part of their Crisis Response program, Google has once again deployed their Person Finder tool, which helps connect families and friends with people affected by the disaster to ensure their safety. The tool, which was also deployed in 2011 in the wake of the Fukushima earthquake, allows people in the area to crowd-source information on disaster victims and their safety.
According to Google only 5,100 records are currently being tracked for the Nepal quake, but the database will likely grow quickly as more information becomes available. Person Finder is also accessible through SMS by texting "search
Additionally, Google has lowered their calling rates through Google Voice into Nepal from 19 cents per minute to only 1 cent per minute, to help people communicate with anyone they may know in Nepal. The company says they chose to charge 1 cent instead of making the calls free to prevent spammers from abusing their systems.
Google also says they are continually updating their satellite imagery to aid in the recovery efforts by allowing responders to identify impacted areas and evacuation routes -- and although cloud cover is impeding their efforts, they're still trying.