Google, the global search giant, has adapted its Person Finder tool to help friends and relatives of the victims of a devastating earthquake that struck the Himalayan country of Nepal Saturday. The Web application, launched in 2010 after a massive quake in Haiti, was created to help families and first responders gather and relay information about missing people to loved ones.
The app allows individuals to post details and to search for the status of friends or relatives they believe were affected by the earthquake. As of Saturday evening in Nepal, the service had more than 600 records. Officials declared a state of emergency, saying the total earthquake death toll in the country had grown to almost 1,000 people, according to BBC News.
The U.S. Geological Survey measured Saturday's quake in Nepal at magnitude 7.8. Local media reported damage to homes and collapsed buildings because of the strong tremor, which was also felt in the Indian capital of New Delhi and in the northeastern region of that country.
Google Person Finder has two boxes: "I'm looking for someone" and "I have information about someone." The app enables those looking for somebody who is possibly lost or trapped to search for his or her name in the database. Conversely, an individual in the quake-stricken can advise friends or relatives that they are safe or provide other relevant information via the app, assuming that person has access to the Internet, a large assumption in the current circumstances.
The Person Finder service is being offered in both English and Nepali, according to a Times of India report.
— Google India (@googleindia) April 25, 2015
Google Person Finder is a project of the company's crisis-response division. The service was engineered to accept data from other missing persons' registries and display them together. Once a record is no longer relevant, an individual user can remove information from the database.