When tragedy strikes our nation as it did earlier this week, widespread worry and panic ensues. It’s hard to know what to do, and where to turn for information when you realize that a family member or friend could be affected by disaster.
Cell phone use has been difficult in the Boston area on Monday and Tuesday after the Boston Marathon Explosions. It was reported that an anonymous law enforcement official said that cell service was shut down to prevent the possibility of the detonation of explosives. Coincidentally, a large amount of the people in the area were unreachable.
Fortunately for many, organizations like Google and the Red Cross have a hand in utilizing technology to help notify those looking for answers of the wellness and whereabouts of their unreachable family and friends.
Google has implemented a site they’ve called Google Person Finder. Users have the option to choose wether they’re Looking For Someone, or they Have Information About Someone who was in attendance at the Boston Marathon. Users input the name of the individual they’re looking for or that they’ve found – at that point the user will be able to see the status of the individual (wether they be alive, missing, unspecified, or have posted a message themselves). Users can also create a record for an unlisted individual to be updated in the future. Users can also subscribe to updates about the individual, so that they can be immediately notified if the status of the individual has changed. As of 12:00PM Tuesday, April 16th – 5400 records were trackable via the Google Person Finder.
The Red Cross has a similar resource called Safe and Well. Users can either list themselves as Safe and Well or Search Registrants. Although the Red Cross’s registrant search works similarly to the Google Person Finder, users need more information about the individual that they’re searching for than just their name. Either a phone number or address needs to be entered before a user can begin their search.
Users should consider the fact that there is a possibility of inaccuracy due to the fact that the general public has the ability to update the information. That being said – overall, these two resources have an impressive ability to provide quick information to those that are not able to reach their loved ones in the event of an emergency.