At a time when Nepal and parts of India have been convulsed by a devastating earthquake, modern web technology is turning out to be a boon as distressed family members are able to locate their loved ones, according to The Times Of India. Social networking website Facebook, and Google’s Person Finder have helped locate the whereabouts of those stranded in quake-hit areas.
For instance, members of one Himmatramka family residing in Birgunj in Nepal marked themselves safe on Facebook. “Our relatives back in India were worried about our safety. So, we marked ourselves safe to inform them,” said Nitesh Himmatramka. People from parts of West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh have also used this app mentioning that they are safe.
Facebook’s safety tool, ‘Safety App’, is being used to find those in the affected areas. Launched in October last, the app is used to generate alerts to Facebook friends of those trapped in the affected areas who, in turn, confirm that they are safe. “Safety Check is our way of helping our community during natural disasters and gives you an easy and simple way to say you’re safe and check on all your friends and family in one place,” Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg had said in a post.
The idea to launch such an app came after the 2011 Tsunami in Japan, which had caused massive devastation in the country as millions of people had little clue about the whereabouts of their kin for weeks. Facebook asks the person in affected area to update their safety status thus, generating a notification to friends on the social network about his or her safety, he added.
This feature lets one check the number of people who are safe and those affected by the calamity along with providing information about location where the person is trapped. Person Finder helps the affected individuals post their safety statuses by using this tool, which acts as a database of missing persons and helps their family members trace them.
It comes with two options–“I’m looking for someone and “I have information about someone”. The technology gathers information from the families and affected individuals, enabling them to upload information and locate their kin. The technology is available in English and Nepali. A 7.9-magnitude earthquake jolted Nepal yesterday followed by several aftershocks and left a trail of death and destruction, flattening houses and buildings, including the iconic Dharhara tower and the landmark Darbar Square in the heart of the capital.