Google wants to help, and today it's the people of Japan and affected areas of the Pacific that need it the most. In response to the massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake that hit the Pacific Ocean near Northeastern Japan at around 2:46 p.m. local time, causing damage with blackouts, fire and tsunami, Google has launched a “crisis center” tool to help friends and loved ones find a person or provide information on missing persons.
The special site also aggregates important sources such as maps, shelter locations, statements from government officials and other related information, writes Mashable's Stan Schroeder.
Google has previously used the Person Finder tool, for example, during the floods in Christchurch, New Zealand or during the height of the recent Egypt protests.
The Japan earthquake version of the tool currently lists about 7,200 records as of 11:20 a.m. EST, but the number is rising quickly as news about the catastrophe spreads around the world. Although the tool can be useful for finding information about a friend or a loved one, Google warns users that it doesn’t review or verify the accuracy of the data. Furthermore, all data entered will be available to the public, as well as viewable and usable by everyone.
Google’s Crisis Center also shows a map of the earthquake and tsunami-affected areas, the latest related news and lists link to warning centers, locations of shelters, statements and information from government officials, disaster bulletin boards, and train and blackout information.
The Google Crisis Center is available here, but it also shows up on top of searches for “Japan earthquake” and similar phrases. During these times of disaster, it’s good to see Google taking swift action and leveraging its vastly popular search engine to help people cope and find information.
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