Google Person Finder awarded

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

Volunteer-minded Web services that have supported people in the areas hit by the March 11 disasters or have contributed to reconstruction efforts over the past year were honored Thursday with awards.

Google Person Finder, created by Google Inc., was given the grand prize from among 134 nominees.

The winners were selected through votes by Internet users and evaluations by a panel of Internet experts.

Google Person Finder was launched March 11 and helped people find out if those they were looking for were safe. The service, which ended Oct. 30, eventually had about 670,000 entries. About 5,000 volunteers helped enter the data.

The awards were hosted by Tokyo-based Internet marketing venture firm Agile Media Network Inc., which was asked by the government to research Web services developed for supporting reconstruction efforts.

Other services that won awards included Volunteer Platform (b.volunteer-platform.org/), which provides volunteer information in Tohoku, and Tasukeai Japan (tasukeaijapan.jp/), which gathers information about what supplies and what kinds of volunteers are needed in specific areas.

Other winners included Yahoo Japan site (shinsai.yahoo.co.jp) that acted as a portal for websites supporting disaster reconstruction and Ganbaro Nippon-Play&Smile for Japan (smileforjapan.wsx2.net/), a website that collected photos and video clips of smiling children to cheer up Japan.

Omoide Salvage Album Online (jsis-bjk.cocolog-nifty.com/omoide/online_album.html), which cleans up photos damaged by the tsunami and returns them to the owners, also won an award.