A woman in Santiago surveys damage after the quake. Photo: todosnuestrosmuertos

Expats and travelers are in a unique position to use Google’s Person Finder App.

One of the stories we’ve been working on since the Haiti earthquake is how social media platforms are being used in disaster to improve rescue, recovery, and rebuilding efforts.

In addition to Twitter, Facebook, and text messaging, a new and powerful app has been unleashed by Google: the Google Person Finder.

The Google blog explains:

“After hearing of the devastatingly powerful 8.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Chile overnight, we began to mobilize several teams to see what Google resources could help with disaster response. For those concerned about loved ones in Chile, the Person Finder tool, initially created in the wake of the Haiti earthquake, can be used to submit or search for information about individuals who may have been affected. The Person Finder tool has been translated into Spanish and is currently available at http://chilepersonfinder.appspot.com/, as well as several media sites and the US Department of State website.”

As a community of travelers and expats, Matadorians are in a unique position to use this app for massive information diffusion. Do you know someone in Chile? Have you heard from them since the quake? Add their name and update their status using the Person Finder tool.

The other app Google’s making available is Google Map Maker.

Again, from the Google blog:

“Google Map Maker is currently available in Chile, and we are making this map data available for download by relief and aid organizations. Visit http://mapmaker.google.com/datadownload for more information and to access the data. If you have familiarity with the region, please help these efforts by contributing data about Chile on Google Map Maker. We will be refreshing the download data frequently to reflect the latest set of contributions.

How are you using social media and online tools to respond to the quake and the resulting tsunami? Share your experiences in the comments.