This is a guest post by Tim Schwartz, he started the original Haiti Missing Persons Index, but then shifted that to Google and quickly became the voice and coordinator of the volunteers around the project. Read more on him and the project via this ABC News piece.

Tim Schwartz, helping with the PeopleFinder community and application

Tim Schwartz, helping with the PeopleFinder community and application

PersonFinder: One Week In

So we just completed our eigth day straight of working on all things related to Tech + Missing People and we’ve learned a lot and accomplished even more. From day one it was clear that the first big hurdle was going to be consolidation and getting players in line with each other. By the end of day 1 there were 4 main sites that we’re tracking missing persons data: a forum, CNN, ICRC (red cross affiliate) and, one week later we have the PersonFinder application that has the data of the following sites within it:

  • International Committee of the Red Cross – Family Links
  • CNN iReport
  • New York Times
  • Miami Herald
  • Canadian Broadcast Corporation

All of these sites have integrated with the PersonFinder application, adopting its API and using it as the repository. All except for one, the Red Cross, we have put in emails and phone calls to them at the top of the top and no one will answer. Instead we have had to create custom scrapers that crawl their site night and day to keep PersonFinder application up to date on their information.

The Widget

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Developers and extending the tool

The plan was smart and simple from the beginning. Make ONE consolidated data base of all of the people affected by the earthquake. Build the repository with easy inputs and outputs so numerous applications could utilize it’s architecture. We’ve done that, now we’re just waiting for more applications, so Devs please talk to us. We are here with all the information and we play well with others.

We’re waiting for an efficient android application, sms outputs, iphone app, twitter feeds, what can you think of?

There are so many people that have pushed on this effort but of course I need to thank Google for pulling up their belt and taking this on with force. And to all of you working on the data, working on the initial products, working on sms integration, or volunteering to convert records into the repository: THANK YOU!