Many residents of the Island of Luzon, Philippines were evacuated from their homes when Tropical Storm Haiku brought a Southwest Monsoon through the region on Monday, August 6. Google has posted a Crisis Response page offering news updates, emergency contact information, and a “person finder” tool where family members and friends can connect with those who were affected by the flood.
Google’s charity branch, Google.org, runs this site that’s helped victims and families since Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005. It has a dedicated team, but Google employees often offer their services during a crisis.
I took an in-depth look at Google Crisis Response for the digital magazine U+Me in 2011 following the tsunami in Japan. The disaster relief site harnesses everything Google does best to help people in need. From the article:
Person Finder, for example, is a simple form for either requesting or providing information on a missing person, including a name, address, identifying features and last known whereabouts. The Response team created the Person Finder within 72 hours of the earthquake in Haiti. The tool, made with technology called PFIF, a data model and an XML-based exchange format that serves as a common backend to all the systems, was then able to aggregate 14 different missing person databases. For people in shelters who do not have access to computers, Google created a mobile tool for them to send a photograph of the list of everyone who is staying there, which is usually tacked to wall of the shelter, and upload it into a Picasa album, where the names will be automatically scanned and entered into the system. The application has also been optimized for the most popular phones in Japan, which are not as high-tech as smartphones. With 497,700 records and counting, the Person Finder has tracked more people in Japan than in the Haiti, Chile and Christchurch earthquakes combined.
The Philippines Flood page also contains maps of shelters, donation centers, and the flood extent of the Marikina River. From the site, here’s the latest info:
NCR, Region I, III and IV-A are worst hit, with more than 800,000 persons affected. More than 250,000 people are in evacuation centers. Source: National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
To get more information or to make a donation to help the victims, click here.