Person Finder a personal success for one Google worker
IDG News Service - For Kei Kawai, the first few days following Japan's massive earthquake and tsunami were a frantic, stressful time. From his Mountain View, Calif., base, he managed to confirm the safety of family members living throughout the tsunami-hit area with one exception: his grandfather.
Kawai turned to Google's Person Finder for help and received confirmation of his grandfather's safety the next day. Kawai wasn't just another user -- he's a product manager at Google and had been working on deployment of the service in the aftermath of the disaster.
"That was a pretty powerful moment," he said in an interview. "We've had a lot of feedback from users, we know that it's working, but it's a little different for yourself to see it working."
Google's response to the earthquake and massive tsunami was fast. About two hours after the 2:46pm earthquake, while towns up and down Japan's eastern coast were still underwater and the country was beginning to grasp the massive potential loss of life, the company launched Person Finder.
"We had employees on the ground who were experiencing the disasters first-hand and wanted to do something about it," said Christine Chen, a Google spokeswoman. "Our company mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful, and information about crises is included in that."
Person Finder is an open database that tries to match requests for information about people with details on those affected. It was created in 2010 after the Haiti earthquake and grew out of the Google.org project, which seeks to use Google's reach and expertise to build products and advocate for policies that address global challenges.
After Haiti, the database was deployed for earthquakes in Chile, China and New Zealand, but it never achieved as much success in those disasters as it did this time in Japan.
In Japan, the database grew to more than 616,000 records, which was well past the 77,100 for the Chile earthquake and 55,100 for Haiti.
But the numbers only tell half the story. Google managed to form partnerships with some of Japan's biggest, most slow-moving and conservative companies and agencies to make the service the success it was.
The first came on March 16 when public broadcaster NHK began collaborating with Google. NHK goes to great lengths to remain neutral and generally does not mention company names in order to avoid appearing to play favorites. So it's alliance with Google was as unprecedented as the situation Japan found itself in.
NHK decided to work with Google to widen the dissemination of its own data to a wider audience, said Reiko Saisho, a spokeswoman for the broadcaster. "We believe it is of benefit to people searching for missing persons to have they information on various media, and we believe Google, which has huge servers, is a suitable partner."
- Disaster hits Japan's semiconductor demand
- How Japan's data centers survived the earthquake
- U.S. roboticists complete mission to Japan's tsunami-hit coast
- Renesas to restart quake-hit factory earlier than expected
- Quake leaves Sony Ericsson with shortages of flagship phones
- Robots enter Fukushima reactor building for first time
- Person Finder a personal success for one Google worker
- Conflicts, disasters could hurt PC shipments in Q2
- Fukushima Daiichi workers clear debris by remote control
- Japanese earthquake shelters getting PCs, WiMax
- Data on the Move = Business on the Move; How Strategic Secure Managed File Transfer Adds Value and Drives Business This whitepaper describes the formal and informal file-sharing methods business employees use to perform their daily functions and explains that, from sending small...
- Path Selection Infographic Path Selection Infographic
- Hyperconvergence Infographic A wide range of observers agree that data centers are now entering an era of "hyperconvergence" that will raise network traffic levels faster...
- Preparing Your Infrastructure for the Hyperconvergence Era From cloud computing and virtualization to mobility and unified communications, an array of innovative technologies is transforming today's data centers.
- Supercharge Your Web and Mobile App Development with High-Productivity Hybrid Cloud Webinar: Hear from industry experts about the amazing power at the intersection of next-generation web and mobile application development and cloud platforms.
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users? All Internet White Papers | Webcasts
Our new weekly Consumerization of IT newsletter covers a wide range of trends including BYOD, smartphones, tablets, MDM, cloud, social and what it all means for IT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!