In 2010, the search engine built the tool Google Person Finder, after the earthquake in Haiti. Yesterday afternoon, it was activated to help family and friends find missing people at the Boston Marathon explosions.
With Google Person Finder, users can enter the name of a person they're looking for or the name of a person they've found.
Due to the difficulties to use cellphones, citizens prefer to track their relatives and friends through social media and these tools. Currently, the site is tracking about 5,100 records.
Google highlights that it doesn't review or verify any information, and that all submitted details are public to all users.
Besides, the program lets press agencies, non-governmental associations and others contribute to the database and receive updates. Also, websites can embed Google Person Finder as a gadget.
Users can subscribe to status update on a particular person and if such status is updated, the person will receive an email with new details.
The site also facilitates Boston Mayor's Hotline for families of victims (617-635-4500), Boston Police line for witnesses who may have information (800-494-8477) and a link to Red Cross' project “Safe and Well”, which is currently being used to share whereabouts as well.
On 15 April afternoon, when runners in the Boston Marathon reached the finish line, two explosions killed three people and injured more than 130 others.
US President Barack Obama said that the government still doesn't “know who did this or why, and people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts.” But, “we will get to the bottom of this”, he added.