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Google launches Person Finder as aid in aftermath of Japan quake

March 12, 2011|By Nathan Olivarez-Giles | Los Angeles Times
  • Commuters gather at public phones as mobile phones are mostly out of service after the earthquake.
Commuters gather at public phones as mobile phones are mostly out of service… (Franck Robichon / EPA )

Google Inc. has launched an online tool that allows users to search for people or provide information about someone who may be missing as a result of the earthquake in Japan.

Person Finder, which has been used in previous disasters, is a central database that individuals, governments and aid agencies can tap to find people and gather information about their condition.

The 8.9-magnitude earthquake set off a massive tsunami and may have killed hundreds of people.

Photos: Scenes from the earthquake

Google launched Person Finder after the Haiti earthquake and most recently deployed the tool for the Christchurch earthquake, a 6.3 temblor that struck the New Zealand city Feb. 22.

As of midday Friday, more than 7,200 queries had been recorded on Person Finder, which is available in Japanese and English.

The tool can be found on Google's Crisis Response Web page, which also includes maps, related news stories, YouTube videos and other resources, such as links to Japanese utilities and government agencies.

Videos of the earthquake

Jamie Yood, a Google spokesman, said Person Finder for the Japanese Earthquake was online about an hour after the earthquake hit.

Person Finder was developed by Google's Crisis Response team, which is made up of employees of the company's philanthropic arm, Google.org.

Photos: Scenes from the earthquake

nathan.olivarezgiles@latimes.com

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