The PeopleFinder project mobilized over 3,000 volunteers to accomplish these goals:
- Enter unstructured data on refugees from forums across the web to the highest data quality standards possible with volunteers giving a little as one hour of their time.
- Enter data from databases across the web into the central database via the PeopleFinder Interchange Format
- Minimize duplicate records
- Support other organizations in implementing the PeopleFinder Interchange Format
- Make the central database avaliable to be searched
- Use the Salesforce API to implement innovative technology solutions to the missing persons problem
The project started on September 1, 2005 with the Social Source Foundation, CivicSpace Labs and the Salesforce.com Foundation kicking off the community.
By September 5, we had finalized the Peoplefinder Interchange Format (PFIF), a technical standard for storing and exchanging refugee data.
By September 6, virtually every message board post was hand-entered by volunteers into the PeopleFinder database (100,000 records).
By September 10, almost every missing and found person record on the web was searchable at www.katrinalist.net (350,000 records).
By September 19, over 620,000 records are searchable.
In its first two weeks, the site processed over 500,000 searches
By October 2, the site had processed over one million searches and 649,015 records were searchable.
Even a month after the disaster, we received anecdotal stories of our impact:
> Dear David,
> I live in Burbank, ca, got home from work tonight (6pm PST)and had
> a phone messge from a friend here in LA. She lives on skid row but
> was born and raised in New Orleans.
> Her elderly mother and son and sister were in the katrina affected
> area, and she had tried to find them via phone calls and the
> internet, but could not. The desperation was thick in her voice
> message, she said she was very worried.
> I plugged in my WAN, and went to work. In 5 minutes, i kid you
> not, 5 DAMN MINUTES, i found her son, with a contact email and
> phone number. I set her up a hotmail email account, sent an email
> to him for her, then called her with the phone number. He is in
> Jacksonville NC.
> She said it was "only" midnight in Jacksonville and she is going to
> try and call !! I just hung up and her entire tone was happy and
> I Wanted to send my deepest thanks to you and your crew (all 3000+)
> for giving me the tools to help my friend. You guys should run
> for office.
> Anyway, i cant thank you enough for all your hard work and
> sleepless nights. Acts of compassion and generosity like this give
> me hope for the human race. May God rest his rising star on all of
> you and bless you all the rest of your days on this earth.