The effects of the massive earthquake that struck Nepal this past Saturday have left the country and surrounding areas in a state of disarray. Death tolls are climbing into the thousands, and an ever-growing number of displaced citizens are scrambling to find shelter and locate lost loved ones.
In the wake of this disaster, a recently added Facebook application has taken steps towards helping some families and friends rest easier. Safety Check allows you to alert your friends of your safety if you are in near a natural disaster sight.
First, Facebook will recognize your location in relation to the disaster site. If you are in range, they will prompt you and ask if you are safe. If you are safe, you can let your friends and family members know right away. You can also check to see if other friends you have in the area have checked in and are safe.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg adds, "When disasters happen, people need to know their loved ones are safe. It's moments like this that being able to connect really matters... My thoughts are with everyone who's been caught up in this tragedy."
Similarly, Google has pioneered a tool called Person Finder, which essentially works like a database of missing persons. During a natural disaster, Person Finder uses SMS to allow anyone to easily search for or update any information that they may have on a lost or found person. The service has already tracked 5,300 records in the past two days in Nepal.
Social media is certainly not the first concern of many people in the face of a natural disaster, but the benefits in this case are plenty. A simple check-in or text message not only helps put the minds of friends and family at ease, but it also narrows down the list of missing persons and saves lives.
Please help the children and families affected by the Nepal earthquake. Text "Nepal" to 864233 to donate $10 to UNICEF's relief efforts or submit a donation online.