Google has launched its comeback to the vicious typhoon that has devastated large areas of the Philippines. The internet giant has created an online Typhoon Yolanda Crisis Page to assist victims to reconnect with family members and friends around the world.
The Crisis Page connects a wide range of Google services, ranging from a person locator to relief maps. According to The Official Google.org Blog, posted by Aileen Apolo, the outreach program manager for Google Southeast Asia. “We’ve launched several tools, available on our Typhoon Yolanda crisis page, to help gather and relay information in connection with the incredible devastation that’s occurred in the Philippines…These resources include Google Person Finder, a Web application that allows individuals to post and search for the status of family or friends affected by the disaster,” wrote Apolo.
People can click on the “I’m Looking for Someone” icon and then type in persons’ names to see if their status has been reported in the site. Victims of the disaster can also inform others that the people they searched for are safe or that they have heard from others by clicking on the “I have information about someone” icon and typing in their important information. “As the number of names and records build, the tool will hopefully make it easier for those who are safe to pass on their news to anyone worried about them,” Apolo wrote.
The Person Finder can also be accessed using mobile phones as well, where Internet access is not available. “You can request status via [Short Message Service] by sending an SMS to 2662999 (Globe subscribers), 4664999 (SMART subscribers), 22020999 (Sun subscribers), or +16508003977 with the message “Search” and then the person’s name,” “For example, if you are searching for Ted Smith, send the message “Search Ted Smith.”
A Typhoon Yolanda Relief Map has also been created and posted online via Google. The service provides updates on shelters and other information in the disaster zone, according to Apolo. The tools are available freely to others to embed into their websites so that additional outlets can spread to help the victims of the typhoon, wrote Apolo. “The more people who contribute to them, the more useful they’ll be,” she wrote.
Google is also creating a monetary assistance fund of $500,000 (£311,895) to be divided between two organisations working to help victims of the disaster. The funds are going to CARE and the Philippine Red Cross to support with relief efforts. Google has also created links on the Crisis Page where people can make their own donations to help the victims of the storm, which has killed at least 10,000 people, according to reports.
The page is provided to the public by the company’s Google.org philanthropic division, which also provides Crisis Map services that help monitor and track major storms, natural disasters and other emergency events to assist during local disasters.