Google Crisis Response seeks to help people in time of need

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Held by Google Philippines, the Google Crisis Response, a project by Google.org, gathered government leaders and representatives from various industries, in exchange of information regarding effective and efficient response during crises. The whole-day summit sought to stress out the importance of teamwork and collaboration by using technologies available at our disposal, that will provide citizens in need with critical information during emergencies.

Present was Senator Loren Legarda, who in her keynote speech, called upon all involved stakeholders to take part in working together collectively, in the midst of unforeseen circumstances.

She later pointed out the growing need for volunteers to find sustainable solutions, specifically planning before calamity strikes.

The morning session of the event included a workshop, wherein Pete Giencke, a GIS Data Engineer of Google, went over the process of navigating through some of the tools that could be used before an expected calamity strikes, and those that can aid first responders with critical information during emergencies. He showed the attendees how to use the Google Person Finder, which could be helpful tracking down missing persons, through an aggregated database encoded by people with relevant information to share.

Google Maps Engine Lite, on the other hand, is a tool that can be used to plot information regarding a certain event. Its back end runs on Google Maps, making it lightweight and comfortable for first time users. Users can place markers all across the map, where evacuation centers, or typhoon point of origins could be indicated.

Meryl Stone from Google Social Impact Team shared, “The Philippines is prone to natural disasters, and Google Crisis Response is a read technology and platform that can provide citizens with the critical information they need and help put emergency information at their fingertips.” She added, “Google’s commitment is to work with local authorities and volunteers to build up a more advanced crisis response platform to make information more accessible during disasters. We want to help them in bringing people a safer and more convenient lifestyle by using Internet-based innovation.”

As of writing, Google Crisis Response has assisted nearly 40 emergency situations in more than 20 countries since 2005. It has also responded to a number of significant disasters in the Philippines, including Typhon Ondoy/Pepeng, Typhoon Sendong, Typhoon Pablo, Typhoon Storm Maring flooding and Typhoon Yolanda. The summit was attended by roughly 200 representatives coming from different government agencies, media, and volunteer groups on social responsibility.