Subject: Following the violent earthquake that stroke Japan, the Red Helmets Foundation chaired by former minister Nicole GUEDJ, puts online MISSING.NET, a humanitarian search engine to find missing people.
Each major natural disaster causes numerous disappearances. Outflanked by the crisis management, rescue teams from all over the world cannot meet the requests of victims’ families. It is notably what Nicole Guedj has deplored during the 2004 Tsunami in Eastern South Asia, when she was in charge of French victims repatriation. To ease research made in emergency situation, the Red Helmets Foundation has conceived MISSING.NET. This initiative has been selected amongst the laureates of the “Innovative Web” call for proposal set up by the French Ministry of Economy, Finances and Industry and has been developed together with Google, Bearstech2 and European Consulting Services3.
Nicole GUEDJ declared: « Facing the increase and the growing scale of natural catastrophes, the international community has to get involved in a new system of humanitarian governance. I am deeply convinced that this will be possible through the creation of Red Helmets at the UN to coordinate rescue teams’ actions. Rescue team which intervene in emergency situations, on natural catastrophe scene. The Red Helmets would be like humanitarian brothers of Blue Helmets, equipped with technological tools, such as MISSING.NET, to reinforce intervention capacities of field actors ».
Right after the Japanese catastrophe, while identification and missing people research is going to stretch over several weeks, the Red Helmets Foundation has proposed a trial of the alpha version of MISSING.NET, enabling rescue teams and victims’ families to use the following functionalities:
Create a missing person profile with information useful to research (picture, civil status, last known home address, physical description and particularities...)
Research a missing person by different criteria and keywords.
Access to a missing people facebook.
Possibilities to witness, post pictures and videos.
Geographic localisation of the victim on maps automatically integrated to missing people’s profile.
Possibility to incorporate feeds concerning the disappearance.
Declaration of a found person in one click.
The Red Helmets Foundation offered MISSING.NET services to Google within the framework of the “Google Crisis Response”. The API of Person Finder system has thus be integrated to MISSING.NET to enable all internet users to complete the information already recorded on this plat-form.
During a catastrophe period, all internet users can freely browse on MISSING.NET and look at missing people’s profile. If a person wants to actively participate to research, by creating a missing person profile or by posting a testimony, he/she has to create his own account. Once registered, each member of MISSING.NET has an inbox in order to rapidly exchange with the entire community. Members can also follow specific missing persons and thus be notified when new elements are posted on these profiles. Some moderation tools are available for member use who can report doublets or abuses.
1 Created in 2006 by Nicole Guedj, the Red Helmets Foundation eases humanitarian action and has two main objectives:
- the creation of Red Helmets Foundation, placed under the aegis of the UN to organise and coordinate the action of rescue teams deployed in emergency on natural catastrophe site.
- the use of new technologies for humanitarian actions by developing innovative technological tools reinforces the intervention capacities of rescue teams.
2 Bearstech is a young company specialised in free software and high added value services regarding hosting and administration.
3 European Consulting Services is specialised in assisting work management.
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