Saturday, January 16, 2010 | 9:27 PM
We're getting a huge response from the relief community and we want to open up our process to help communication and give people a better idea of our status.
First, a quick replay of what we've been doing in the Person Finder team and how we've been interacting with the community.
Google has a crisis response group that quickly went into action after the quake in Haiti on Tuesday, coordinating with groups internally and externally, including governmental and non-governmental authorities. A crisis response page was soon posted at:
It was realized there would be a need for a way to find out the status of family and friends who may have been impacted by the quake. As groups began to coalesce around this need, it was discovered that a Person Finder application had been created in the aftermath of the WTC attacks in 2001. Another was created in response to hurricane Katrina. Unfortunately, a quick survey showed these applications could not be revived in a short time.
However, we found that a person information exchange format had been developed out of these experiences, called PFIF (http://zesty.ca/pfif/). We decided to start implementing a new Person Finder application that would use PFIF for data exchange, while in the meantime we posted a spreadsheet form to start collecting data. While this was happening, our contacts at other companies asked us to take the lead in storing and sharing the information. The goal was to avoid confusing people about where to post and search for information about those who were missing, while using Google's resources to provide a reliable and scalable site.
The spreadsheet form was linked to the relief page Wednesday night. The first version of the application went up Thursday night at:
The first data import from haitianquake.com came in Friday night.
Tonight, Saturday, we are beginning to provide an API for our person finder database for integration with other sites. The read functionality is currently live and we'll soon have write functionality as well. We expect that we can act as a common back-end for various applications concerning missing persons, and that this will allow other groups to develop focused applications for various needs we cannot address, while ensuring basic data compatibility among the efforts.
We are building a community platform including this blog and an informational site at:
The site contains links to spreadsheet exports of our development tasks and data exchange plans from the agencies who have contacted us.
We also plan on a full open-source release of the application and associated tools.
So, please take all of this as an invitation to work with us in a coordinated effort to help the crisis relief efforts for the people of Haiti.
The Person Finder Team