The recent Nepal earthquake is devastating, but it’s worth noting that, in the wake of disaster, a handful of technology companies have stepped up to provide help in any way that they can. One of those ways is by enabling people on the ground to easily get the one message that matters back home: “I’m safe.” Planning for unforeseen events is a necessary part of travel, which is why we think it’s importantly to understand exactly how two features from Google and Facebook in particular work, before you head out on your next adventure.
Facebook’s Safety Check: Constructed to help both those on the ground and those concerned back home, Safety Check is a tool that’s launched following a massive storm, earthquake, or crisis. It’s available on any computer with a Web browser, iPhone, Android, and even lower-end feature phones. If Facebook users are in an impacted zone, they’ll be automatically pinged with a notification asking if they’re safe. If they click “I’m safe,” their friends in the area will be notified immediately. Users will also be given the opportunity to call for help if needed. Be sure to bookmark facebook.com/safetycheck for future reference.
Google’s Person Finder: This particular effort is manned by Google.org, an arm of Google that serves the broader public in times of crisis. With each event, Google erects a Person Finder that works on computer and via text message. Those with access to a computer or web browser can visit google.org/personfinder to find links to two things: “I’m looking for someone” or “I have information about someone.” You’re also given the ability to search via text message, with country-specific numbers published on the site. Of note, any data entered here is automatically made public and viewable to anyone.
If you have any other emergency tracking services you’d like to share, please comment below.