Volunteers give out packages of instant noodles to residents living in an evacuation area in Kathmandu, Nepal. Volunteers give out packages of instant noodles to residents living in an evacuation area in Kathmandu, Nepal. Volunteers give out packages of instant noodles to residents living in an evacuation area in Kathmandu, Nepal. (Photo: Omar Havana / Getty Images)

Tech companies offer help in aftermath of Nepal earthquake

Industry leaders jump to action to assist in the best way they know how.

Nepal experienced its worst earthquake in almost a century on Saturday, its 7.8 magnitude leaving thousands dead or wounded and an infrastructure in tatters. While emergency services inside the country work around the clock, and aid workers arrive to offer a helping hand, several technology companies have also made an effort to use the tools at their disposal to assist where they can.


Facebook Safety Check

Facebook introduced this feature late last year, having begun development of it after observing the surge of activity on social networks following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The tool is activated in a specific area when deemed necessary, and works by asking users there if they are safe. Contacts can also find friends and get status notifications. Facebook determines location by the city listed in the user's profile and where they are using the Internet. Users can also utilize Facebook’s Nearby Friends tool, for real-time location identification. The tool was activated in and around Nepal on Saturday.


Viber Phone Calls

A young girl plays underneath her tent in an evacuation area set up in Kathmandu, Nepal.A young girl plays underneath her tent in an evacuation area set up in Kathmandu, Nepal. (Photo: Omar Havana/Getty Images)

Shortly after news broke of the devastation in Nepal, this Israeli cross-platform messaging app announced through Twitter that it would waive fees for users in Nepal. This is important in a country suffering catastrophic losses to an already shoddy telecommunications infrastructure. The company later waived fees for incoming phone calls to Nepalese mobile and landline numbers, even posting directions to their Twitter page on how to place the calls. 


Google Person Finder

Google's Crisis Response division first launched this open source program in 2010, following the earthquake in Haiti, and has used the tool several times since. Person Finder gathers information from emergency responders and individual users who can enter information for a missing person or someone who has been found. As of Monday morning, there were 5,800 records being tracked in Nepal.

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