Google Person Finder Helps Amid Boston Marathon Turmoil

(Ping! Zine Web Tech Magazine) – Amid conflicting reports and chaos caused by the tragedy that occurred at the Boston Marathon earlier this week, people scrambled to ensure the safety and whereabouts of loved ones.

And while rumors were rampant upon the web, technology did play an integral part in helping calm mass confusion.

Google was there to help, providing a project known as “Google Person Finder” as cellular devices were hit with network problems from an onslaught of outgoing calls and shutdowns.

A report from Search Engine Journal recently highlighted the little known Google platform. “We tried calling her for a half hour without any luck. If it wasn’t for Google Person Finder, we would have had no idea if she was ok and safe,” commented Kelly Manning of Saratoga Springs, New York, according to Search Engine Journal.

So how does the platform work? Users post and search for statuses of loved ones.

“The program also lets press agencies, non-governmental agencies and others contribute to the database and receive updates by using the Person Finder API based on the PFIF open standard. In addition, websites can choose to embed Google Person Finder as a gadget on their own pages. Google Person Finder is open source software meaning that any developer can create their own instance of Google Person Finder after a disaster. Person Finder runs on the Google App Engine platform, and it has been launched in over 40 languages. We do our best to make sure it’s available in the most commonly spoken languages in disaster prone countries,” explains Google via the project’s support page FAQ.

Meanwhile, Google has asked people to help improve the people finding platform by reporting technical issues.