Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Google Steps up During Times of Disaster

By Courtney Carey

Yesterday, a devastating earthquake hit the historic town of Christchurch in New Zealand. As of this morning, officials stated that 75 people were killed and 300 are reported missing. Among all of the tragedy, there is some positive news. At least 120 survivors were pulled from the wreckage and many people are stepping up to help. One household name that is making a huge impact is Google.

Google helps individuals sort through billions of bits of information for its users every day. Now, the company is expanding and using their immense database for an incredible cause. Google launched a Person Finder web page that will attempt to reunite missing friends and families. The Person Finder site was created along with the U.S. Department of State after a devastating earthquake that hit Haiti in January, 2010. Google’s person Finder sites were also used in response to earthquakes in Chile and China.

The website allows users to search for a missing person by entering an individual’s name into a user-created database. If a match is not found, the user can leave information and a message about the person. Users can also leave information about themselves in case others are trying to locate them. As of late last night, more than 6,500 records were created on the site.

Google is also working on crisis response pages that would include lists of helpful resources, emergency contact numbers and real-time updates from popular social media sites, such as Twitter and YouTube.

Google is setting an incredible example of how modern technology can be used to truly impact the world and make a real difference in peoples’ lives. Thanks to Google, people have a chance to be reconnected with their family and friends after going through an unimaginable disaster. I really admire what they are doing and I hope that the People Finder web page continues to successfully reconnect loved ones.

Courtney Carey is Manager of Social Media at Maroon PR. Contact her at

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