Louisiana Tech has reached further in its help to Katrina victims, this time through technology.
Dr.Box Leangsuksun, an associate professor of computer science, along withfive computer science graduate students, has created a new Web siteaimed at locating people displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
His hopeis that the site will help streamline the search process. Other sitesare available that perform similar tasks, he said, but they contain somuch information that users can be stymied.
"Our job is to simplify (the process) so the user doesn't have to navigate through so much data," he said.
Leangsuksun said work on the search engine began because he couldn’t ignore his desire to help others.
"Afterthe hurricane hit, I kept watching TV and feeling depressed," he said."I was in Thailand during the tsunami, and I felt bad because I had tocome back to teach and couldn’t help. I thought we should do somethinghere to help the hurricane victims in some way. I feel like this is mysecond chance to help people."
Leangsuksun and the Extreme Computing Research Group began working on www.searchkatrina.orgSept. 2, and it was up and running five days later. The group membersare Anand Tikotekar, Kshitij Limaye, Kiriti Munganuru, Sunil Sudhakar,Yudan Liu and Arpan Darivemula. All are originally from India exceptLiu, who is from China.
Though the team put in long hours and worked nonstop through the weekend, Leangsuksun said they feel good.
"If we can help one or two people find their loved ones, it’s worth the hard work," he said.
Noting the site's user friendliness, Leangsuksun said, "Simple is beautiful."
The group agreed.
"Ifa name is not found in our database, the user is directed to anotherlink. From there the user just has to click," Limaye said. "We wantedthe people to have fewer difficulties."
The site combs numerousdatabases of sites containing lists of evacuees. Users can alsoregister their information with the site. In some cases, the Web siteprovides locations of where the victims evacuated to and an update ontheir safety.
Leangsuksun said since the site was launched it hashad close to 1,000 hits, and he hopes updating it will allow morevictims to find their loved ones.
"We just want to continue to spread the word," he said, "and hopefully the work we’ve done will be useful."
Leangsuksun said he is spreading word of the site through the Louisiana Board of Regents, the media and other contacts.
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