Google’s quickly launched a version of its Person Finder app to help people try and locate friends and family caught up in the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Available in both English and Japanese, the tool allows people to post details of their whereabouts or make enquiries about others. Typing in a name will deliver any information received about that person.
Within two hours, over 2,000 reports had been logged on the site, and the number’s already up to nearly 4,000. Many reports are added by volunteers who collate information from Twitter and other sources and add it to the database.
Google has also made the code available to developers who wish to embed the tool on their website.
It’s also set up a crisis response page linking to a wide range of information sources. These include up-to-date tsunami warnings and several disaster message boards.
The earthquake hit at around 2.45pm local time today. A tsunami has already struck Japan itself, and the whole Pacific is believed to be at risk; warnings have been issued as far afield as Chile and Hawaii.
Google launched a similar service after the recent earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, which held about 11,500 reports. The company first offered a Person Finder service following the Haiti earthquake which struct in January 2010.