A new crisis-communication tool, Google's Person Finder, is emerging full-blown from the Haiti earthquake after being envisioned in the aftermath to Hurricane Katrina. True to in its minimalist design principles, Google offers a virtually blank page that asks, "What is your situation?" It also provides one of two boxes to click: "I'm looking for someone" or "I have information about someone."
As of today, Google adds that Person Finder is "tracking about 35,200 records."
This can be a great tool for locating people caught in chaos. But gaining access to it during a disaster could take some knowledgeability. You can't simply go to Person Finder. If you try that route, you'll be caught up in commercial people-locator services focused on workaday searches, not emergencies.
Google's Person Finder URL for the Haiti disaster, for example, is haiticrisis.appspot.com/, which is a bit cumbersome, but the service is highly useful.
Background on how IT folks rallied to be of help in Haiti and how Person Finder emerged from the fray as a primary tool is provided in the Fox News piece "New Tech Tools Help Haiti Quake Relief."