Mumbai, June 20: Google has launched its 'Person Finder' application in India to help offer information on missing people in flood-affected areas in the country, including Uttarakhand.
Google Person Finder is a web application that allows individuals to post and search for the status of relatives or friends affected by a disaster, Google said in a blogpost. The Google Person Finder for 2013 Uttrakhand Floods is available at http://google.org/personfinder/2013-uttrakhand-floods/.
The Google tool had helped people track the missing after a 8.9-magnitude earthquake that triggered a 13-foot tsunami in Japan in 2011 and also during the recent Bostom Marathon bombings. Google Person Finder, a project of the Google Crisis Response division of Google.org, was built by Google engineers in response to the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti to help those affected by the earthquake connect with their loved ones. Google Person Finder can also accept data from other similar registries and display them together at one place.
The service is powered by individual users who update and remove records when no longer relevant. It was also active during the recent New Zealand earthquake and also the 2010 Pakistan and Brazil floods.
"Since last week, the state of Uttarakhand in India has been grappling with severe floods. Given that most of these areas in the state are highly inaccessible with intermittent communication, Google Crisis team bring you the Person Finder," the blog post by Jayanth Mysore, Google APAC Senior Product Manager, said.
The tool can help trace the missing people in flood-affected regions of Uttarakhand and is available in Hindi and English, it added. All data entered into Google Person Finder is available to the public and searchable by anyone.
The programme 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.
Flash floods and landslides triggered by the monsoon fury left over 150 dead in calamity-hit Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, while thousands of pilgrims and locals are being rescued from various districts, including Rudraprayag and Chamoli.
50,000 people are still said to be stranded in various parts of Uttarakhand that was hit by cloudburst and floods. The calamity has ruined thousands of homes, rest houses and buildings.
The official death toll still stood at 150, but Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said the casualties could run into several hundreds which will be known only when areas become accessible and water recedes.
The state government's disaster mitigation and management centre had in the morning said that the causalities could run into thousands with about 90 dharamshalas (rest houses for pilgrims) swept away in the flash floods.