Google Person Finder has become a useful tool in responding to natural disasters by reconnecting people with their family and friends. We’ve been looking at the next phase of Google Person Finder and decided to begin hosting the open source project at Google Code. We’re inviting the developer community to help improve Google Person Finder and the PFIF data format.
Google Person Finder provides a common place to search for, comment on, and connect records from many missing person registries. After the January 12th earthquake in Haiti, a team of Googlers worked with the U.S. Department of State to quickly create a site that helped people who were affected by the disaster. The site was used heavily after the Chile earthquake in February and put in action again in April after the Qinghai earthquake in China and in August for the Pakistan floods.
The software powering Google Person Finder is open source so we’re listing the open issues and feature requests we’ve received over the past few months in hopes the community can help us improve the code. We’ve created a Developer Guide to help developers get started. As always, we invite those interested to post questions on our public Person Finder discussion group. Those who are interested in improving the PFIF data format can also join the PFIF discussion group.
In addition to opening our product for developers, we’ve decided it’s now time to turn off our Google Person Finder instances for Haiti, Chile, China, and Pakistan. It doesn’t seem useful to be serving these missing person records on the Internet indefinitely, so we intend for each instance of Google Person Finder to be running for a limited time. Once an instance has served its purpose, we will archive the PFIF records in a secure location for historical preservation for one year while we work to identify a permanent owner for these records. Assuming a long-term owner cannot be found, we will delete the records after one calendar year. For more information, please feel free to review the Google Person Finder FAQ.