March 15, 2011 at 2:22 PM ET
Google has been helping find and track victims of the Japanese earthquake with its People Finder tool; now they're upping the effort with a service that allows people at shelters to upload lists of names to a central place, using their mobile phones.
The service, described on the Google Crisis Response page, was also explained to us by a Google spokesperson:
We're asking people living in shelters to take photos of the posters with people's names with their cell phones, and send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, specifying the name of the shelter in the subject line. Once sent, the photo will be automatically uploaded to this Picasa Web Album. We are in the process of manually adding the names from those photos to Person Finder.
Yes, Google staff is manually adding all the names to the Person Finder tool. Based on the many photos already visible in the Picasa Web Album associated with this service, they've got quite a lot of work ahead of them.