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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

News Update : Google opens person finder tool for ‘Sendong’ casualties

J. M. Tuazon, · Monday, December 19, 2011 · 9:01 pm

MANILA, Philippines — Search engine giant Google on Monday made available a “person finder” utility to aid relatives of those affected by Typhoon “Sendong” in getting information about their loved ones.
Through the person finder database, users can also report names of relatives who are still missing amid the chaos wrought by the typhoon, which left hundreds dead in its tracks.

With the number of missing persons nearing the 1,000-mark, the person finder becomes an indispensable tool to keep track of the situation on the ground.
Google clarified, however, that it does not verify or review the accuracy of the data entered by people into the database. As of posting time, the system is currently monitoring some 200 records of missing persons.
The person finder proved invaluable when it was put up during the twin-disasters in Japan, which wiped away entire provinces and left many people disconnected from their relatives.
Meanwhile, a central database for donation channels had been put up by people behind the Facebook group “Mata na, CDO”  to coordinate relief efforts in flood-stricken areas.
Using the database, prospective donors are updated on what are the immediate needs of the typhoon victims, where they can take their cash or in-kind donations, and where they can direct their relatives in Mindanao to safety and assistance.
A similar situation during Typhoon Ondoy, social media became an effective tool in disseminating information regarding relief efforts for those affected by the natural disaster.
Rock Ed Philippines founder Gang Badoy (@gangbadoy), for example, has been coordinating efforts with her team in Iligan City using her and her group’s Twitter accounts.
Over on Facebook, concerned citizens had put up a page (Missing Persons of CDO and Iligan)where users can upload photos of those missing from the flash floods and ensuing disasters in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan.
Users had also turned their profile pictures into an icon brandishing the words “Help CDO” to turn people’s attention further to the overwhelming condition down south.
Enterprising students of Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT), meanwhile, decided to take the simple #OneForIligan hashtag on Twitter and spawned an entire website out of it.
By visiting, users can peruse an interactive map that shows exact locations of news and social media reports on casualties, sites for evacuation and medical assistance, as well as missing persons in the area.
For those who are worried about the whereabouts and condition of their relatives in the affected areas, an alerts system has also been put up which would send an update to any one’s email address when a report is submitted within 20 kilometers of their chosen location.
These efforts boosted by technology prove that even if nature raises a storm and destroys entire cities, people the world over could still rally help and offer resources with the help of the Internet.

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