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Google switches on Christchurch earthquake service

'Personfinder' worked in Haiti

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Google is offering its "personfinder" database to help people in Christchurch, New Zealand find friends and family in the wake of last night's earthquake.

The googlepersonfinder home page has two buttons - one for those looking for someone and another button for surfers who have information about a Christchurch resident.

The database uses the PFIF (People Finder Interchange Format), which means others outside Google can make use of the data.

The information is not checked and is publicly available. All information will be stored for a year after the disaster, then deleted if a long-term owner cannot be found.

The service was first offered in Haiti after last January's earthquake.

It is a product of Google's philanthropic arm, Google.org. The site aimed to solve the issue of multiple databases created in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which meant residents had to check several different sites when searching for family or friends.

Developers can get involved in improving Google's people finder here.

There's more on Google's people finder here, or, if you have a pressing need, you can visit the actual site here. ®

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