Google expands services for Japan

March 14, 2011

In this combination photo made up of two satellite images provided to the media March 13, Yuriage in Natori, Japan, is seen in 2008, top, and after the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami. (VIA BLOOMBERG)

In addition to its Google Person Finder, which now has over 161,000 entries, the search giant has started a new initiative to quickly share the names of the thousands of Japanese living in shelters.

The search engine has set up a Picasa album, which you can access at goog.gl/ganbare, where people can send cameraphone pictures of rolls listing the names of those in the shelters. (“Ganbare” is a Japanese expression of encouragement. ) Users can e-mail the pictures to tohoku.anpi.google@picasaweb.com to upload the pictures to the site. The Google team is adding the names from those rolls into its person finder by hand.

The Person Finder is now also available in Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean and Portuguese to better serve those looking for missing persons.

Google has also optimized its crisis center to work better with mobile phones, for those in shelters with limited Internet access. The shortcut to that address is goog.gl/keitai.

In cooperation with Honda, Google has also put up a Japanese-only map providing information on the roads that have been accessible in the past 24 hours. Jamie Yood of Google’s Global Communications and Affairs has said this map may prove useful for those looking to transport supplies or to volunteer.

The company has also put up a series of before and after photos showing the incomprehensible damage.

Related Stories:

Japan Earthquake: Google launches Japanese Quake Person Finder

Japan: Earthquake shows how bad news travels fast, and first, online

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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