Whenever earthquakes or natural disasters strike any part of the world, Google and Facebook have been upfront to offer their free “Person Finder” and “Safety Check” tools to locate stranded people but this time it was too late almost after 48 hours since the disaster struck the Himalayan nation.
Moreover, these internet tools cannot be accessed unless the communications and Internet network is restored in Nepal but as seen on Saturday and Sunday, all the government and official websites are down.
While Indian and overseas teecom operators came forward to offer free calls to Nepal, few could contact their families, reflecting the massive disruption in communications in the hilly regions of Nepal that should be addressed first.
However, the feature helps those who are safe to relay back their welfare status and those in the periphery could also make use of it. In case of Nepa earthquake, the feature helped those in Indian side, especially Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal to inform their friends and relatives that they are safe.
However, Facebook is using its latet safety tool, ‘Safety App’ to find those in the affected areas to raise alerts in Facebook for friends to move on further to find out those trapped in the rubble.
“Safety Check is our way of helping our community during natural disasters and gives you an easy and simple way to say you’re safe and check on all your friends and family in one place,” Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg said while unveiling the feature in Octobaer last.
Unlike the March 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan that left millions untraceable for weeks, the new Facebook can make it possible for all those survivors to provide their status online, to save anxiety moments for the loved ones.
But the irony is that Nepal’s Internet remains dead since the devastating earthquake on Saturday and the focus should be to revive it first and then make people connect with the survivors or those trapped in rubble or in isolated places.
In fact, Google’s balloon-based internet and Facebook’s drone-based connectivity feat can be experimented and useful in Nepal currently as it would take few days for the relief supplies to reach every corner of the hill surroundings.
And for those who are able to access the Internet, they can open Google Person Finder and post their safety. The opening page provides two options “I’m looking for someone and “I have information about someone” and the user can update either way to connect with the rest of the world.
It is available both in Nepali and English.