How Google is transforming disaster relief

Since Typhoon Haiyan tore through the central Philippines earlier this month, loved ones around the world have posted more than 107,000names to Google’s Person Finder. Missing-person lists are nothing new, but in any given disaster, they were often difficult to search or find at all. If relief work could be considered an industry, then Person Finder is an example of what Google does best: disrupt an inefficient one.
“We try to use friendly terms, disruptive has negative connotations,” Pete Giencke, an engineer on the Google Crisis Response team, told America Tonight.
Google isn’t trying to beat down the competition, but help it scale up.
“These organizations spring up, and they’re doing the right thing,” Giencke said. “The easiest tool, maybe it’s a spreadsheet, maybe it’s Facebook. These tools don’t scale very well – 200,000 names in a spreadsheet, a Facebook page with 10,000 posts.”

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Photo:The homepage of Google Person Finder for Typhoon Haiyan Google

How Google is transforming disaster relief

Since Typhoon Haiyan tore through the central Philippines earlier this month, loved ones around the world have posted more than 107,000names to Google’s Person Finder. Missing-person lists are nothing new, but in any given disaster, they were often difficult to search or find at all. If relief work could be considered an industry, then Person Finder is an example of what Google does best: disrupt an inefficient one.

“We try to use friendly terms, disruptive has negative connotations,” Pete Giencke, an engineer on the Google Crisis Response team, told America Tonight.

Google isn’t trying to beat down the competition, but help it scale up.

“These organizations spring up, and they’re doing the right thing,” Giencke said. “The easiest tool, maybe it’s a spreadsheet, maybe it’s Facebook. These tools don’t scale very well – 200,000 names in a spreadsheet, a Facebook page with 10,000 posts.”

Read more

Photo:The homepage of Google Person Finder for Typhoon Haiyan Google