How to use Google or Facebook to communicate with your loved ones after a strong earthquake? we tell you

In the early hours of this Friday, March 10, the dream of thousands of Colombians was surprised by a strong earthquake that interrupted it. According to the report of the Colombian geological service, the earthquake had a magnitude of 5.9, depth of 151 kilometers and its epicenter was in the municipality of Los Santos, Santander.

The tremor was felt in several areas of the country such as Santander, Caldas, Cundinamarca and certain areas of Valle de Cauca. In fact, several inhabitants of Bogotá took to social media to report their reactions to the situation.

The SGC indicated that several earthquakes have occurred – Photo: SGC

In the midst of the confusion and anguish that this situation can produce, internet connections and communications may be affected. Depending on the seriousness of the situation, it becomes a little more complex for a person to contact their loved ones to find out if they are okay.

For this reason, in recent years Google and Facebook have developed special functions on their platforms that help locate people, in addition to generating a notice to family and loved ones to report that they are safe.

How to use Google or Facebook to find your loved ones after an earthquake?

Safety Check, Facebook tool to find people

Today Facebook has an option called Safety Check that allows to generate a special notification for the user’s friends. Thanks to this resource the user can report that he is well.

However, this is a functionality that cannot be used whenever users want, since the tool is automatically activated in case of emergency situations. Therefore, it is a function that is enabled for the population that is in the territory where an earthquake or other incident that affects a large population occurred.

Facebook has a system for people to report that they are okay after an emergency like an earthquake.
Facebook has a system for people to report that they are okay after an emergency like an earthquake. – Photo: Screenshot / Week

According to the Meta social network, at the precise moment a dangerous situation occurs, such as an earthquake, information agencies that monitor emergency situations around the world alert Facebook.

Initially, the security status verification system is activated so that people who are in the affected area can share information about the event.

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Therefore, Facebook users who are in the immediate vicinity of the affected area can receive a notification asking them to confirm that they are okay.

In addition, there is the possibility to review the notification of the security check to see if other friends who are in the same place are safe.

How to use the Facebook system to check that loved ones are okay?

When receiving a notification from Facebook asking if you are okay, it is essential that the user click on “I’m fine”.

To ask another person if they are safe during a catastrophe, it is necessary to carry out the following steps:

  • Initially, the user must go to the emergency response section and select the page of an emergency situation.
  • On the page of the emergency situation, you will have to click on ‘Security Status Check’.
  • Then you should check the option ‘Friends in the area’which generates a list of contacts that have indicated that they are fine and another of friends who still they have not done it.
  • In this section you can use the search bar to search for a friend by name, but this option will only work to locate people who are friends of the user on Facebook.
  • To do this, click on ‘Ask if it’s okay’, next to the person’s name.
Facebook has a system to locate people after an earthquake or other emergency.
Facebook has a system to locate people after an earthquake or other emergency. – Photo: Screenshot / Week

Once the question is generated to the Facebook friend, that person will receive a notification that will allow them to confirm their status and in this way the user will be able to receive a piece of peace of mind about the conditions in which a relative or loved one is.

Google People Locator (Person Finder)

Google Person Finder is a web application that allows people to look up the status of family members or friends affected by a disaster. The program also allows press agencies or non-governmental entities to contribute to the database and receive updates through the platform.

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This service is one of the tools used by the Google Crisis Response team, which analyzes the impact of the disaster and then determines which of its tools would be most useful in responding to the situation.

Google has a tool to search for people after an emergency like an earthquake.
Google has a tool to search for people after an emergency like an earthquake. – Photo: Screenshot / Week

But it’s important to note that all data entered into the tool is publicly available and can be searched and accessed by anyone. Since Google does not review or verify the accuracy of that information, it is effectively up to users to update and delete records when they are no longer useful.

At the same time, Google launched an emergency alert system for earthquakes and other situations.

What is Google’s alert system for an earthquake?

Seismic movements are a natural phenomenon that occurs with high frequency in certain parts of the world, such as what happened in Turkey and Syria. For this reason, Google several years ago decided to incorporate into its operating system for mobile devices a protocol early warning that can help its users to react in time to a tremor or an earthquake, this in cooperation with California Emergency Services and ShakeAlert Technology.

The main advantage offered by this alert system is that it would have the ability to warn a population seconds before an earthquake occurs, in order to provide a response time that helps save lives.

Emergency report that Google generates on Android phones.
Emergency report that Google generates on Android phones. – Photo: Screenshot / Week

The central axis of this system lies in the fact that there is a large network of connected telephones, since this condition allows Google to collect with accurately the information needed to generate a detailed alert that can help prevent a tragedy.

To do this, Android uses the information that accelerometers, a sensor that is incorporated into almost any smartphone, record in real time.

When an accelerometer manages to detect movements that can be produced by an earthquake, this function is activated, generating an alert to Google and a system immediately analyzes the information that other devices located in a nearby area emit.

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