Get Creative in Creating Crisis Communication Tools

A recent event focused on solving humanitarian problems and held by an organization called Random Hacks of Kindness has led to an innovative tool aimed at crisis communication. The new application, called SMS Person Finder, was built to collect text messages from a disaster area and share them with Google’s Person Finder, a tool used to track victims following recent disasters in Haiti, New Zealand and Japan.

Random Hacks of Kindness, which was founded in 2009 in partnership between Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, NASA and the World Bank, is a community of “innovation focused on developing practical open source solutions to disaster risk management and climate change adaptation challenges.”

The collaboration was responsible for a new crisis communications tool rolled out in 2010. Called I’m OK, the tool worked as an SMS service that let people inform their families of their status during the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile in 2010.

According to a Wall Street Journal article, SMS Person Finder remains a work in progress. SMS Person Finder developer Kevin Conley said there are plans to independently roll out the crisis communication tool alongside Google’s Person Finder when the next disaster hits to test the app’s capabilities.

“I thought, ‘Well, when disaster hits, survivors and victims may not have Internet access, but they may have a cell phone for text messages,’” Conley said, according to the WSJ article.

For more information about Random Hacks of Kindness, its mission, and SMS Person Finder, visit:,, and