The Google Crisis Response team builds open source and open standards-based products and services to support those affected by natural disasters. These products include Google Person Finder, Google Crisis Map, and Google Public Alerts. The team wrapped up its response to Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan last month, and has responded to over 40 events and made several field deployments since its official inception in January 2010 for the Haiti Earthquake. Got questions about our products or efforts, please ask us (anything).

Joining from the Googleplex in Mountain View and from our New York office are...
Nigel Snoad ( /u/nigelsnoad), Product Manager
Ka-Ping Yee ( /u/zestyping), Software Engineer
Pete Giencke ( /u/gzipete), GIS Data Engineer
Meryl Stone ( /u/m3ry1), Partner Manager


Aaaand we're out, thanks for your questions everyone! We'll try to take a look at new comments as time allows, otherwise we're on Twitter & G+ if you have other questions.

Comments: 134 • Responses: 13  • Date: 

khall63445 karma

How many people are involved in the Crisis Response team?

google-crisis-resp6 karma

The size goes up and down, depending on whether we have an active response going on. We do have a dedicated group of engineer and product leads, but we grow when we’re responding - we often bring in Googlers in an affected region and other team members who can help when we need more hands on deck.

fragmede3 karma

Have the NSA revelations affected your work at all?

(Hopefully not! But you never know how affected countries will react...)

google-crisis-resp4 karma

We haven't seen any impact on our response efforts. We take our users' privacy really seriously, including on products like Person Finder (here's some info on what we do on privacy for that product:

SenpaiSilver3 karma

How many people are working on the team and how often do fake requests get posted ?

How do you deal with it ?

google-crisis-resp2 karma

We don't have a set number, since the team grows when we are working on a response. What did you mean by fake requests? We don't really have a forum where we'd have to address fake requests if I understand your q correctly.

pack0newports2 karma

I don't want to sound like an asshole but isn't it illegal for a corporation to do something like this? It was my understanding that corporations were only allowed to do things to make money, to bring stock holders value.

google-crisis-resp3 karma

It's certainly not illegal. A lot of companies have programs to help give away money or product or even encourage volunteering amongst employees. In our case, we're using our tech and engineers to build something that helps get people the critical information then need during a crisis. There are other teams at Google that have social impact-focused missions (like or Google Ideas)

Nadyshenz2 karma

What encourage you to work particularly in this sphere?

google-crisis-resp2 karma

People turn to the tools they use everyday to get information when they need it, and more and more, that means going online. We think we have a responsibility to users to provide them the info they need, when they need it, through tools like Search and Maps.

Zarghe2 karma

Somewhat forward looking, but I'll try my luck: the Crisis Desktop web products feel a little on the "old" side visually, any plans to bring them up to date with the latest Google-wide design language (i.e. Cards etc)? Or is it a deliberate choice for usability/speed/data usage etc?

google-crisis-resp3 karma

Great question. We're actually in the process of doing a UI refresh across our products to be more "mobile-first" (shout out to Nadav, our UI superhero), in response to non-desktop traffic from past responses exceeding 50% -- a number that will only get bigger over time. To address the needs of these mobile-affected users, we launched a cards-based "landing page" late last year, and recently launched a major phone-friendly redesign of Crisis Map. We'd love getting specific product feedback (esp. on UI side), so message me or tweet us if you have suggestions :)

lord_leon2 karma

Is Google's ultimate aim to be at the Earth's technological forefront?

google-crisis-resp2 karma

Our company mission is still about taking the world's information and making it universally accessible and useful. Larry (Page) has talked a lot about going beyond incremental change and thinking big re: technology, and it's certainly something we aspire to do.

CopperBurnsGreen1 karma

Hi my question is can you get me a job at google?

google-crisis-resp1 karma

Your best bet is to check, sadly, no magic powers to get you through the interview process :)

djgump351 karma

Are there any internal crises that you are charged with assisting?

Totally related, and since they have already revealed the truth, when did you know the purpose of the barge, and how successful do you think it will all be?

google-crisis-resp2 karma

Internal crises...can you give an example of what you mean? We definitely have googlers in affected areas jump in when we respond to a disaster.

As for the barge, wouldn't it be nice if it was full of disaster supplies? It's not really related to our day-to-day so we heard details around the same time as everyone else.

likke1 karma

Hi Pete. I am one of the crisis mappers back when the Visayas earthquake and Yolanda happened here in the Philippines. I would like to ask what your process is for hiring if there are openings in your team? I enjoy crisis response.

google-crisis-resp1 karma

Hi, thanks for your help during the Yolanda event. We post all of our formal job opportunities at For more informal collaboration, we try to use crisis mappers mailing list ( to announce products and responses, and potentially, opportunities for the community to get engaged. We've also recently set up a twitter account (@googlecr) and G+ Crisis Response page to keep folks up-to-date as well.

today_okay1 karma

What is the best way for an individual to get involved in google crisis? thanks

google-crisis-resp1 karma

Check out our response above, does that help?

joeywas1 karma

Has your group ever considered engineering mobile internet pods that could be rapidly moved into a stricken area and provide lots of temporary bandwidth?

google-crisis-resp3 karma

It's from another part of Google, but Project Loon could one day help provide connectivity in situations like this. We hope that happens.

dtech9041 karma

How is the Crisis Response team structured? Is there one global team? Or there individual teams in specific countries/regions?

google-crisis-resp2 karma

How is the Crisis Response team structured? Is there one global team? Or there individual teams in specific countries/regions?

We have a core team of engineers and product leads, but we expand in team size when we are working on a significant response: Googlers in affected areas jump in, as well as others who want volunteer their time. A lot of the core team is in the US, but we also have a group focused on crisis response in countries such as Japan.