After the devastating earthquake in Nepal, it was only a matter of time before families were looking for their loved ones in the wreckage or hoping those distant were still alive. Years ago, knowing if your friends and family were okay after a disaster would take days and was often in the hands of professionals like police and rescue personnel. Now, apps can take care of anything and, in the case of Nepal’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake, Facebook and Google’s check-in tools have been widely used by residents to inform their friends and family that they are okay.
Google was the first to think of such a feature, according to Slate magazine. It was inspired by the 2010 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Haiti. The Google People Finder feature was later highly used in disasters like the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. On the app, users can select whether they have a declaration or they are searching for someone. They can also choose from a list of crises for an easier search.
Facebook, on the other hand, released its Safety Check app this past October. Slightly more specific than Google’s People Finder, Facebook users can use their friend list to locate the declaration of a friend or family member during a disaster. Also, in the event of a disaster, FB activates the feature for that event and is able to locate users who are in the area. This causes the Safety Check app to send users a notification to update their safety status.
— PrayforNepal (@thapapratistha) April 25, 2015
In an act of concerned genius, FB CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted on his own Facebook account on Saturday after the earthquake to remind FB user that the Safety Check exists. The social network creator gave his regards to the families of the reported 1,000-plus victims.
“This morning we activated Safety Check for people affected by the earthquake in Nepal. It’s a simple way to let family and friends know you’re okay. If you’re in one of the areas affected by the earthquake, you’ll get a notification asking if you’re safe, and whether you want to check on any of your friends. When disasters happen, people need to know their loved ones are safe. It’s moments like this that being able to connect really matters.My thoughts are with everyone who’s been caught up in this tragedy.”
The earthquake in Nepal so far has resulted in over one thousand deaths. Rescuers are still reportedly pulling victims from the rubble. Around the web, citizen photos show injured victims and even bodies lined up on the ground. But thanks to Google and Facebook, those who are safe can let the world know without any delay.
[Image via Adweek]