Finding People

Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath continues to haunt the rest of America. I’m on several different email discussion groups – especially ones that have to do with political organizing and technology – and they are all talking about how to solve this problem (thanks to SoRo for the link). This morning on Dan Gillmor’s Bayosphere, Tim Bishop outlined the problem: “create a single database of all the people missing in the aftermath of Katrina that their friends and family can use to connect with them”. Turns out that there are already a number of options springing up, from the Katrina PeopleFinder Project to a CivicSpace effort to Wal-mart’s own attempt to help. But the one that made me choke up a bit was the Lost and Found section of Craig’s List New Orleans – mostly because it reminds me of Sept. 11 in New York City, people desperately searching for their loved ones.

There is also a mailing list for on-going discussion of technical response to emergency events; I’m not on it myself, and don’t know what it’s like: Digital-ER. But let’s return to the PeopleFinder project, which a number of my friends and colleagues are involved with. Noting that the Red Cross fulfills much the same function, the PeopleFinder project has a page explaining why they’re doing this:

Donated money? Please donate a little time. Join the Katrina PeopleFinder Project.

It’s easy. All you need is an internet connection and the ability to copy data into a form.

After Katrina many friends and family members have been separated and left with no clear way to find each other. Hundreds of internet web sites are gathering hundreds, and probably thousands, of entries about missing persons or persons who want to let others know they’re okay.

The problem is: the data on these sites has no particular form or structure. So it’s almost impossible for people to search or match things up. Plus there are dozens of sites – making it hard for a person seeking lost loved ones to search them all.

The Katrina PeopleFinder Project NEEDS YOUR HELP to enter data about missing and found people from various online sources. We’re requesting as little as an hour of your time. All you need to do is help read unstructured posts about missing or found persons, and then add the relevant data to a database through a simple online form.

To get started please click here:

Questions? Email katrina-people (at)

The Katrina PeopleFinder Team

One Response to “Finding People”

  1. Renee in Ohio Says:

    I’ve got the transcript of Howard Dean on Hannity and Colmes from yesterday posted here, if you’re interested

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