The massive earthquake in Nepal has made social media and its immense reach and the ability to spread emotional appeals to the entire world, even more important. As search and rescue missions continue for survivors, families flood social media networks and are using a special Google tool, with hope and a prayer, for clues of their dear ones.
The quake measuring 7.8 in magnitude, struck at around noon local time, in an area between Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu and the city of Pokhara. Over 3,500 people are reported dead and many more are trapped under massive scattered rubble. The quake affected parts of North India as well, with violent tremors triggering an avalanche on Mount Everest which killed 17 people. India and Israel have joined the search and rescue mission, and the US is sending $1 million in emergency aid.
Meanwhile, if you are looking to help or seaching for someone, here’s a look at some of the tools and platforms available to back up your effort.
A tool that was primarily developed in response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake is back to basics again. The tool offers two options – “I’m looking for someone” and “I have information about someone”. Photos and social media profiles can be uploaded, as well as details of a person’s appearance. The search is available through SMS in India and the US. Text “search <name>” to +91-9773300000 in India or +1-650-800-3978 in the US. The tool is available in English, Hindi and Nepali.
— Alex Court (@CourtA) April 27, 2015
Facebook had launched the ‘safety check’ feature in October of 2014. This feature lets users in earthquake affected regions inform their relatives that they are safe, by clicking on the safe button. People who know that their friends in an affected region are safe, can mark them safe on their behalf.
Also, check out Nepal Earthquake 2015 page on Facebook. This is a voluntary page started by Nepalese citizens currently residing abroad, to help and support families and friends to share news and updates.
Multiple Indian telephone and cellular network service providers have pitched in to help in the search for missing people. For the next 48 hours, Idea and Bharti Airtel have made all calls to Nepal (on the home network) free, while State owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (BSNL & MTNL). Tata Docomo, Reliance Communications, Telewings, and Sistema have made all calls to Nepal from its landline and mobile as a local call, for three days – from Saturday on – as a relief measure. Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad’s Facebook page mentioned further measures taken by telecom companies:
– Airtel has made calls to Nepal free for 48 hours from Sunday (April 26).
– Idea has made calls to Nepal at Rs 1 per minute from Rs 12 per minute.
– Vodafone has now also decided to make calls to Nepal at Rs 1 per minute for 24 hrs from April 26 (the date of announcement).
Microsoft has stepped up its effort to help as well, by immediately making all Skype calls to landlines and mobiles, in and out of Nepal free.
According to Goonj’s Facebook posts, they have again started getting calls from people offering clothes. However, GOONJ will not be taking clothes for this disaster, as they are well stocked. Goonj’s Facebook page will continue to update and map out the exact list of items needed and has also requested citizens to spread the word.
Information and updates about the earthquake is available here and reported via social media by users across the globe. Several teams have been established by various countries, corporates, and NGOs to use social media and crowdsource information, to account for and track various search and rescue missions that are ongoing.
For additional reading: http://www.insidepolitics.org/brookingsreports/Disaster%20Relief.pdf