March 14, 2011

Tech giants help Japan’s earthquake victims

by Jan Harris

Technology groups including Google, Twitter, Facebook and Apple, are providing services to help Japan’s disaster victims.

The massive earthquake, which today has been upgraded to magnitude 9, and the subsequent Tsunami, devastated the north eastern coast of Japan on Friday.

Shortly after the quake hit, Google launched a version of its People Finder service to help people find friends and family amid the chaos.

The service, an online message board directory, was used following the earthquake in Haiti last year, to help co-ordinate the records of victims who had been lost and find.

Less than 24-hours after the Japanese disaster, 45,600 records had been added.

Google has set up a resource page with links to news sites, transport companies, power companies, mobile operators’ disaster message boards, meteorological agencies, maps and Twitter updates.

Working with GeoEye, Google is using its Picasa platform to provide satellite images of the country’s worst hit areas, helping aid organisations with their response.

With mobile networks flooded with calls, Twitter and Facebook are
helping earthquake victims communicate with friends and family.

Tech companies are also assisting with the aid effort by making it easy for people to donate.

Apple is taking donations to the Red Cross through a new portal in the iTunes Store, while social gaming company Zynga has joined with the Japan Earthquake Tsunami Children Emergency Fund to enable gamers to donate by purchasing Japanese inspired decorations or in-game add-ons.

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