Google set up its Google Person Finder Website in Boston shortly after the twin bombings at the Boston Marathon finish line April 15 to make it easier for survivors at the scene to communicate with worried friends and family members in the hours after the horrific terrorist attack.
By the afternoon of April 16, information about some 5,400 people had been entered into the database so that people could search for loved ones to make sure they were safe after the explosions. Users can enter their own names or the names of someone else, along with other pertinent information, so that others can learn of their status, according to the site.
The Google Person Finder service, which is one of the company's Google.org philanthropic initiatives, was started in January 2010 in response to the Haiti earthquake to enable victims to connect with their loved ones. The Person Finder database uses common file formats that are interchangeable with other registries so that information on survivors and victims can easily be accessed and transferred.
The service is initiated by Google when conditions warrant its use, the company said. "The Google Crisis Response team analyzes the scale of impact of the disaster and then determines which of its tools would be most useful for responding to the given situation," Google states in an FAQ about the service.
All data entered is public and anyone can view it, according to Google.
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