Google Launches ‘Person Finder’ for Philippines

The storm that slammed into the Philippines last Friday has left thousands dead and missing. As families and authorities scramble to track down the survivors, including children, Google launched several tools to help people find their loved ones.

The “Google Person Finder” allows people to post messages about their missing loved ones via a web application. It’s also a place for survivors to post messages letting others know they are OK. Or, if you have information about an individual, such as their location or status, you can also post that information.

Person Finder can also be accessed by mobile phone by using an SMS short code. The tools can be embedded into any website, or you can share them via email or social media. More from Google’s Monday blog post:

You can request status via SMS by sending an SMS to 2662999 (Globe subscribers), 4664999 (SMART subscribers), 22020999 (Sun subscribers), or +16508003977 with the message “Search” and then the persons name. For example, if you are searching for Joshua Reyes, send the message “Search Joshua Reyes”…

These tools are open to anyone to embed on their Web sites – here are instructions for embedding person finder, and you can click the “Share” button at the top of the crisis map to embed or share by email or social media.The more people who contribute to them, the more useful they’ll be.

The storm, called Typhoon Yolanda or Haiyan, was described as much–much–more powerful than Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans and the surrounding area in 2005. The typhoon devastated whole towns, and an international rescue effort continues this week to recover the dead and missing, and to bring clean water and food to survivors.  Some aid agencies are warning of a 10,000 death toll total.