Google Extends Japan Information, Relief Online Tools

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Google has enhanced its online tools to support information discovery and relief efforts in Japan, making available its centralized Crisis Response portal in more languages and for a broader range of mobile devices, the company said on Thursday.

The Crisis Response page , set up after a 9.0 earthquake and a devastating tsunami hit Japan on March 11, is now available in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean. A simpler version optimized for a broad range of cell phones has also been set up.

In addition, Google's Person Finder Web application, designed to let people and organizations post and search for the names of affected residents, now also lets users enter and search for residents' mobile phone numbers as an alternative way of seeking them.

Google has also extended the Person Finder effort by letting people in Japanese shelters take photos of handwritten lists of those currently there and e-mail them so Google can add them to a Picasa Web album set up for this purpose. Japanese-speaking volunteers can provide translation help for this effort at this page.

Google is also providing frequent updates of satellite images of affected areas in this Google Maps page and this Picasa Web album.

Other Google Maps pages display current electricity blackout instances, road conditions and aftershock epicenters and shelter locations.

Google is also providing information via Twitter accounts, including @googlejapan and @earthoutreach.

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