Google & Facebook helping out Nepal.


On the 25th of April 2015, Nepal was struck by the worst earthquake the country had seen within 80 years. Around 40 to 50 villages were (almost) completely destroyed, especially in the North-West of Kathmandu.

Currently, the amount of deaths counted is 7,040. However, the Nepalese prime minister Sushil Koraila has stated that this number will most probably rise above the 10.000 deaths. Besides this, thousands of people were hurt and the damage that the earthquake caused in general is enormous.`

The country is still looking for survivors of  the earthquake. In addition, the demand for food and hygiene is extremely high. There are a lot of victims with dirty wounds that got infected. Doctors and nurses are trying to reach the stricken areas, but a lot of them are hard to reach. Food preparation has become really hard through a shortage of pots and pans. However, the most urgent problem at this point is the lack of shelter. As lots of houses are destroyed most of the survivors currently live on the streets.

As this is a very serious natural disaster, people all over the world are joining forces to get Nepal the help they need as well as companies. Google and Facebook, two of the greatest information sources, are also showing their help, but in a different way.

Safety check

Facebook has come up with a “safety check” that the company had already presented last October however, it is only activated when an actual disaster occurs. People in the stricken area get a notification of Facebook, based on the location of their last log in, asking them if  they are safe. As soon as they have clicked on safe, all their Facebook friends will get to see a status update that will notify them that the person is safe. This is a new integrated tool of Facebook that involves the need of different users. On the one hand  it offers a form of relieve to family members and friends that hear the terrible news. On the other hand it is a fast way for the person in the disaster area to notify the people around them that they are safe.

Person Finder

Likewise, Google has made an effort to use its information source to help out the victims of Nepal. They activated their Person Finder. Through this webpage users can report if they are looking for someone or if they have information about the disaster area. Family and friends can for instance, render someone as missing by posting personal information about the missing person and for instance upload a picture. The search option is also available through text message. The search engine currently consists of 4800 cases.

Setback

A huge setback, in my opinion, for both integrated tools is the availability to internet. In the disaster area it is likely that after an earthquake smartphones broke down or internet connection or cell phone reception dropped out. In addition, Nepal is not a very wealthy country, which makes the access to Facebook less likely. This is why I wonder how successful these tools will be and what both companies will do to make access easier in such cases.

References:

http://www.nu.nl/dvn/4038036/we-weten-zware-aardbeving-in-nepal.html#aardbeving-nepal-29

http://www.ad.nl/ad/nl/1013/Buitenland/article/detail/3982865/2015/04/27/Facebooks-veiligheidscheck-actief-na-aardbeving-Nepal.dhtml

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