Technology’s Digital Helping Hand in Boston Bombing

/// Technology’s Digital Helping Hand in Boston Bombing

April 16, 2013  |  Blog

Technology services are becoming a digital helping hand to people affected by the Boston explosions.

In response to the explosions at the Boston Marathon on Monday Google Inc. philanthropic arm activated “Person Finder,” a digital message board and registry for people affected by natural disasters or other crises.

As of 6 p.m. ET Monday, the Person Finder website said it was tracking about 1,800 records of people looking for someone they can’t track down, or of people looking to pass on information they have about affected people in the Boston area. Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Google Person Finder has been activated in disasters, including the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the 2011 earthquake and nuclear accident in Japan.

As is now commonplace in the wake of major events or crises, Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc. have become digital timelines of eyewitness accounts, photos and video from the scenes of the Boston explosions. Topsy, a service that analyzes Twitter posts, showed a spike of more than 1.5 million tweets mentioning the term “Boston” just after 4:30 p.m. ET, about an hour and a half after the explosions happened and news of the incidents had gone viral.

A Twitter spokeswoman had no comment. Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Boston.com, affiliated with the New York Times Co. Boston Globe newspaper, also has created online spreadsheets to connect people who need a place to stay in the Boston area with people who are willing to accommodate those who need it. Boston-area authorities have limited road travel in the area, and some out-of-towners have reported they can’t access their hotels.

A spokeswoman for the New York Times Co. didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

On its Twitter page AT&T Inc. also asked people in the Boston area to “keep non-emergency calls to a minimum,” and to send text messages instead of making phone calls.

Link: Technology’s Digital Helping Hand in Boston Bombing

The Wall Street Journal – Shira Oveda

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