Google Helps Find Missing People in New Zealand

Posted by: Lindsay Dressen

Photo by: Martin Hunter, Getty Images

Christchurch, New Zealand was hit with an earthquake shaking the country to the ground on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011. The earthquake has left the country with 75 dead, while others are missing.

For those looking for their family members, social media could be the answer. Google has developed a website that allows victims to post information about themselves and people they are looking for to help reunite the separated. The application is called Google Person Finder. It has helped countries in times of need such as Chile, Haiti and China when earthquakes struck them all in 2010.

The website is simple. Simplicity is something needed in a time of crisis and grief. It asks the person what their situation is, then gives them two options, “I’m looking for someone” or “I have information about someone.” It had tracked 8,000 records on the evening of Feb.22, 2011.

Photo by: Rob Griffith, AP

If “I’m looking for someone,” it chosen it allows has the person type in the missing person’s name and it will scan the database for them. In the case where there is no match, the person is then given the option to leave information or a message for the missing person if they come to the site. If the option “I have information about someone,” is chosen, the person can leave information about themselves or another person for when someone else clicks on “I’m looking for someone,” is chosen.

This is an advance in technology some have yet to grasp. Some won’t realize the benefits of Google Person Finder until they have been affected, or know of someone who has. What if this technology was around during 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina? How would our lives or the media differed?


3 responses to “Google Helps Find Missing People in New Zealand

  1. I think that this technology could be extremely useful and help bring families back together, but the only problem I have with it is what if the injured cannot post information about their whereabouts and what about the people who are no where near someone that could help give information? I think the idea is really good but there are too many what if’s that still need to be answered.

    I do agree that things could have been different if this technology would have been around during 9/11 and Katrina. But with 9/11 I think it would have been difficult for anyone to really get that information out seeing as they were most likely buried underneath rubble that if someone did know of their whereabouts that it would be hard to identify who that victim was.

  2. Chelsey Teachout

    I love this idea, but it is limited to people with internet and computer or smartphone access. Is there a way to make this database more accessible with a “computer cart” or station with similar mobile media devices?

  3. To assume that everyone has access to a smartphone or internet is a bit far-fetched. I like the idea of a station where people could log in. Maybe every couples miles there could be a station with first-aid, along with the “computer cart.”

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