Given the shocking events unfolding in Japan today, it’s understandable that many will be looking to check up on friends and family located in that country.
Telephone lines and cellphone service has been spotty, yet internet access remains relatively stable which makes it one of the best ways to get information in and out of Japan as they deal with the crisis at hand.
Google has once again provided a set of tools that leverages this infrastructure.
The first is a crisis response centre page that acts as a clearing house of information related to the developing sitiation.
The second is a people-finder tool.
Something to keep in mind: The tool is only as good as the data people submit – in other words, Google has no direct control over the quantity or quality of the information. They are merely providing the tool for people to use as they see fit. At the time of this post, the tool had registered 7,200 entries.
On a related note, if you own an Apple i-device, there is a free English-language app from NHK, Japan’s national broadcaster, that provides live coverage of the situation.
And if you are trying to check on Canadians located in Japan, the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs has two phone numbers you can call: 613-943-1055, or toll-free within Canada at 1-800-387-3124
If you know of any other web based tools or sites that can help during this severe crisis, please post in the comments below.