It’s been just over three weeks since the horrific 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, killing an estimated 200,000 and leaving another two million in need of aid. News spread quickly around the world, in part by television, radio and newspaper, but mostly through the internet.
As relief efforts were quickly organized, Google developed a web site full of resources for the disaster in Haiti. The site features news and updates; donations to UNICEF and CARE (among others) using Google Checkout; the “Person Finder” tool; post-earthquake imagery; and numerous videos.
Google News, YouTube videos, and real-time updates on Google Search are available, as well as links to local media websites. They also offered free Google Voice calls to Haiti for U.S. families trying to reach friends and relatives. The most impressive feature is the “Person Finder” tool, which allows you to select I’m looking for someone and/or I have information about someone, to locate missing persons affected by the quake or start a new record of data on an individual.
The powerful post-earthquake images from Google Earth show the destruction in Haiti, and satellites will continue to update as more data becomes available. Pre-earthquake views are also going to be stored in the historical imagery section available on Google.
Translation Resources for the Haitian Language
The latest relief resource from Mountain View – translation services for the Haitian Creole language now being available. Creole is one of two official languages in Haiti (the other being French), and is spoken by about 80% of the population.
The utilization of this technology is profound when thinking of the big picture. The internet reaches a quarter of the earth’s population, and about three-quarters of the U.S.’s. Being the most-visited site in the world, Google’s ability to market, whether for- or non-profit, has grown substantially. That also means any person, group or company working with Google has the potential to reach such a broad audience. The possibilities to get your name, message, brand or product out to internet consumers are endless.
How Other Internet Companies are Contributing
Other search giants, like Yahoo, also dedicated a relief resource site for people to gain more information about donations and links to various organizations. Microsoft’s disaster response site includes donation information, satellite imagery, and a Creole translation system.
While no efforts can be ignored during a time of crisis, it is clear to see that Google has the best ability to gain the world’s attention. In January 2010, Google saw 42.5 % of internet users visit their site, compared to 27.2% at Yahoo, and 3.9% at Bing. And while continuing aid, search, and rescue efforts in Haiti may not be the top story on the 10 o’clock news, or on the front page of the newspaper, the most relevant, up-to-date information will surely be found online, and most likely linked back to Google.
By Amanda Witucki
Paid Search Staff