Google Lends a Hand to Disaster Relief’s Missing Persons

We hate to continually stroke Google’s ego, but they’ve really got a toe-hold in terms of coming up with innovative and useful web and mobile applications (apps, for short). Following the recent 7.2 earthquake in Turkey, Google released a personalized version of their “Person Finder” app to help Turkish victims search and hopefully find their missing loved ones. Originally launched in 2010 following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, “Person Finder” is an open source web application that provides a registry and message board for survivors, family and loved ones affected by natural disasters to post and search for information about each other’s statuses and whereabouts. Hosted by Google’s App Engine, “Person Finder” is multi-lingual and houses an associated Picasa account to allow victims to submit photos corresponding to the name lists posted in emergency shelters. While “missing persons” lists are nothing new, the problem that was occurring is that many different non-related organizations offer this service and prior to Google’s implementation of the People Finder Interchange Format (PFIF) application programming interface for its app, there was no such thing as a master list which combined all of those developed by the various emergency relief organizations. Sites that adopt PFIF formatting are able to export and transmit data to each other. End users accessing the software widget (pictured) can also directly embed “Person Finder” into their own web pages. Japan’s “Person Finder” currently houses information about approximately 2000 missing individuals related to the tsunami disaster earlier this year. All data collected by “Person Finder” is publicly available to any user. Accordingly, Google has posted a disclaimer warning users that it does not overview entered information for accuracy or truthfulness. Unfortunately, abuse of the system has already been reported in terms of false entries and worse, false recovery reports. If your small London, Ontario-based business requires the development of an open source web application or registry, don’t hesitate to contact Inspiratica today for a free consultation.