As the death toll of the Nepal earthquake that swept across the South Asian country on Saturday nears 5 000, a handful of tech giants have stepped in to assist in aiding relief efforts and making it easier for relatives and friends to communicate with loved ones in the country.
Facebook’s donate button has once again resurfaced on mobile and desktop, giving users anywhere in the world the chance to donate funds securely to the International Medical Corps, which is currently working in Nepal to deliver medicine and medical care to the worst affected regions.
Facebook has committed to matching every dollar donated up to $2 million, which will then be handed over to other relief and rescue organisations in Nepal.
(You can also make your donation on the Nepal Earthquake Support page if you’re having trouble doing so on your News Feed.)
There’s also the Safety Check feature that you anyone can use to check up on someone in Nepal or let their loved ones know they’re okay in Nepal, but also Bangladesh, India and Bhutan, which were also affected by the earthquake.
“Since then, millions of people have been marked safe and tens of millions of people were notified that someone they know has been marked safe,” Facebook said in a statement.
Google recently updated satellite imagery of Nepal on a Crisis Map featured on Google Earth to help aid workers locate affected areas as well as evacuation routes. These images will be updated as frequently as possible as cloud build up clears over regions.
Person Finder, a toll similar to Safety Check, is available on the Crisis Map and allows users to post and search for anyone or let anyone know that they or someone else they may know of, are safe. Person Finder is available in English, Nepali, Hindi and several other languages.
Google Voice calls have been reduced until next week from 19 US cents (around R2.30) to 1 US cent (around 12c) per minute to make it more affordable for people to stay in contact with their loved ones in Nepal. Alternatively, you can use Hangouts Dialer on Android, Hangouts on desktop and Gmail on Google Talk if you don’t have a Google Voice number.
Microsoft has also announced a reduction in its VoIP rates on Skype with immediate effect. Landline and mobile calls from and to Nepal will be free of charge. This is in addition to its pledge of $1 million in cash, technology and services to rescue efforts.
The company did not say when the free Skype service would end.[Sources – Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Image – CC by Laxmi Nakhushi]