Google wants to compete with Facebook when it comes to locating people in disasters and attacks. It has been developing its search engine for people in the event of catastrophes since the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, and although since then it has not had as many headlines as Facebook’s, it has continued to maintain it and activate it at specific times.
One of them was the new earthquake suffered in Mexico yesterday. Google reactivated its people locator, and we have tested it to see what it has to offer, and what alternatives it presents to Facebook. This way, if you ever find yourself in a catastrophe for which it kicks in, you’ll know what to expect from this feature.
Google’s people locator is itself a markedly different tool than Facebook’s. It is not based directly on the interactions of its users but rather shows you the information provided by the users themselves. It is dedicated to accepting data from other official registries and organizations that use its API.
Even so, it also allows you to edit the profiles of the people who appear on your list in case you have information about them. And if it is your name that you want to add to reassure your loved ones, you can also do so by indicating that you are fine and specifying which area you are in or adding all the information you consider necessary.
How the Google locator works
The operation of this web service is simple. All you have to do is enter your mobile or computer browser and access the page google.org/personfinder/. In it, you will see information aimed at developers who want to help implement it and associations who want to upload data to the search engine.
At the top right, you have a menu button, and when you open it you will be shown the events for which Google has activated this locator. According to the search engine company, activating this locator will depend on the scale of the impact of the disaster that has happened somewhere. As we can see, at this moment it is only activated in Japan due to the typhoon they have been suffering and in Mexico due to the earthquake.
When you enter the profile of one of the locations for which registration has been activated, you will see a page with two options. On the one hand, you will have a button for when you are looking for someone, and on the other one for when you are the one who has information about a person or you want to give it about yourself. Below the options, you have the total registrations for each event. In the case of Mexico, it is 19,800 people, but for example in Japan, it remains at just 900.
If you click on the option I am looking for someone, you will have to write the name of the person you want to find, and then a list of records that match these parameters will appear. In each one, you can see the photo of that person if there is one, their full name, and their status. If someone believes that person is fine or the same person has wanted to make it known that he is fine, it will appear in the status.
For example, we enter the profile of someone who claims to have posted a message. As we can see, here you get the information about when the message was created and all the information that this person has provided.
If when searching for a person’s name nothing appears, you can create a new record. In this way, you will be able to incorporate into the database a record with the name and surname of someone you are looking for. In addition, you can also create a new record to let whoever looks for you know that you are okay.
The I have information about someone option works the same, and you have to enter first and last names to access the matching records. The difference is that when you enter someone’s file, you will now be given the option to edit their status to indicate if it is you, if you have information, or if you think they are missing. You can also enter a text to specify the status of that person.
The page looks the same when you enter from your mobile browser. All the options are in the same place and the buttons are the same, so you don’t need to have any application installed to be able to use it. This is positive because you don’t have to pre-install anything, and negative. After all, it offers a poorly optimized experience for smartphones.
A very immature alternative to Facebook
After trying this option to locate people from Google, we are left with the feeling that it is an excessively basic tool, not very well cared for, and that it is light years away from all the possibilities offered by the Facebook alternative.
Google’s people locator has a database that is perhaps too loosely organized in which we have not even seen that most profiles include a simple photo that helps identify people, a notable absence when several profiles with the same name match and last name.
We also found it quite unintuitive to use, requiring too many steps to indicate that you’re ok, something that on Facebook you can do a little more easily with a mobile app instead of a simple web.
At the other extreme we have Facebook, which offers a significantly more useful tool in which at all times when activated, it shows everyone in a country the option to say that they are fine or to send a message to one of them. your friends so that they indicate how they are with the press of a button in the application.
There are also many other options that it offers, such as offering shelter in case someone needs it, volunteer work, food, or transportation for people who may have been affected. In this case, while Google is limited only to offering an index of the status of people, Facebook goes a step further by allowing you to offer help to these people.
Therefore, and in conclusion, we can say that Google’s people search tool seems to have evolved little in recent years. Even so, as it is based on information from organizations that may be on the ground, it is still a necessary complement for when you cannot locate a specific person on your own or Facebook. And it is that in the end, all help is always welcome in circumstances like this.
Sharlene Meriel is an avid gamer with a knack for technology. He has been writing about the latest technologies for the past 5 years. His contribution in technology journalism has been noteworthy. He is also a day trader with interest in the Forex market.