Google: Access to info via technology during crises is critical, life-saving
Range of technologies used to respond to emergencies help communities
(Manila, Philippines, September 25, 2013) — In times of crises and disasters, technology is an enabler that fosters collaboration and communication among the public, government and business sector. This is what Google said during the recent Social Good Summit in Manila it hosted with other organizations. The summit aimed to exemplify this by bringing together individuals and organizations committed to mitigating risks of climate change and disasters through technology.
Climate Change Commission Secretary Lucille Sering and Senator Loren Legarda set the context, outlining the country’s status with respect to calamities and the policies already in place. Legarda stressed that collaboration between local and national government agencies, private sector, civil society and the media is critical in making the country more resilient against disasters.
Technology ensures effective emergency response and saves lives, according to Google executives. “The Internet is a robust platform where anyone can provide information that is relevant to the user,” said Andrew McGlinchey, Product Manager for Southeast Asia at Google. “All crises are local. Everyone is in a position to help but there has to be a good flow of information. The more open data is shared with aid organizations, the more people can distribute information online.” he added.
Google, in particular, created a team dedicated to crisis response. One of the technologies developed to increase information awareness is Public Alerts, which provides emergency information about specific locations. Public Alerts uses Search and Google Maps to relay relevant and useful data to communities that need it most.
Most recently, the Google crisis response team developed a crisis response map for the Philippines during the southwest monsoon rains in August that caused massive flooding in Metro Manila and several provinces. The team also actively provided assistance during Typhoons Ondoy in 2009, Sendong in 2011, and Pablo in 2012.
Patrick Meier of Digital Humanitarians, who spoke via Google+ Hangouts from Qatar, discussed the impact of social media during disasters, noting that access to accurate information as crucial as access to food.
A panel that included Red Cross Philippines Chairman Richard Gordon tackled volunteerism and how Filipinos can lend a hand when disasters strike.
For Google, volunteers play a big role in addressing crises. “While we are proud of the contribution of our team, our success relies heavily on the local volunteers from the mapping and developer communities. They are the one who give their time and energy to make sure Filipinos will have information during disaster situations. We also coordinate with a number of government agencies and NGO partners to help share authoritative information,” said Aileen Apolo, Outreach Program Manager for Southeast Asia at Google.
Another emergency information source, Person Finder, was developed by Google only 72 hours after the 2010 Haiti earthquake to help people find their loved ones. In Japan, over 600,000 records were generated using Person Finder during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that caused extensive and severe damage in the northeast region of the country.
Today, Google technologies have benefited several relief organizations in terms of navigating disaster zones. “We believe that technology is a powerful tool to provide solutions during a crisis. We are committed to provide services and innovate with our technology during emergencies especially with the help of our strong network of partners and their commitment to open data standards,” said McGlinchey.
Andrew McGlinchey, Product Manager for Southeast Asia at Google, shares insights on the use of the Internet as a reliable tool for providing information and enabling quick communication during disasters.
Aileen Apolo-De Jesus, Outreach Program Manager for Southeast Asia at Google, talks about Google Crisis Response, a Google.org project committed to making information available during calamities through tools such as Public Alerts, crisis response maps and Person Finder.
Speaking via Google+ Hangouts, Digital Humanitarian Patrick Meier elaborated on the importance of social media during crises, and identified ways on how social media can improve warning and response mechanisms online.
About Google Inc.
Google’s innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major global markets. Google’s targeted advertising program provides businesses of all sizes with measurable results, while enhancing the overall web experience for users. Google is headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia. For more information, visit www.google.com.ph
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