Google Launches Disaster Prep Features

Even seen on a laptop screen, the images from last year's San Bruno explosion are stunning.

But when flipped to different angles, and layered to reveal data and information, the images actually become helpful.  At least, that's what Google is hoping, as it rolls out new disaster preparation technology via its "Geo" team.

It's technology that Google has been using - Maps and Earth - but now focused on how disaster victims and responders can take advantage of the software, especially considering how we're all using mobile devices wherever we go.

For example, if you're wondering where flood waters are headed next, or if your neighborhood is going to be evacuated, you can type in your address, and Google's software will tell you whether or not you need to leave home.

Also, "Person Finder," which lets you type in someone's name, and take advantage of Google's crowd-sourcing software to help find someone.

As Google's Mimi Kravetz told us, "People use the internet in times of crisis.  Making critical information accessible in the aftermath of natural diasters, leveraging Google Maps and Google Earth, and teaching responding organizations how to use these tools can help."

Originally launched after the Haiti earthquake of 2010, the technology has been updated in time for "Prepare for Disaster" month, with lots of people thinking about San Bruno, 9/11, and recent flooding.  Google's technology nods at both our desire for information, and our desire to help others.

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