Volunteers create missing person platform to help Ukrainians reconnect

The website was created to help Ukrainians reconnect
The website was created to help Ukrainians reconnect(WEAU)
Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 6:18 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) - As the war between Russia and Ukraine carries on, more people are losing contact with loved ones.

A website was created to help make it easier for people to check in during this time of war.

That’s where DeTy.org, a missing person platform, created for Ukraine comes in.

“The main purpose of the website is to help displaced Ukrainians find each other because they are in a war zone and they’re panicking,”DeTy co-founder Kate Larson said.

An international group of volunteers with backgrounds in cyber security created the free website. DeTy translates to “Where are you?” in Ukrainian.

“As great as it would be if they could all reach each other by phone and social media, that’s unfortunately not the case right now,” Larson said.

Larson is from Chippewa Falls and is actively contributing to the website.

“I did not think that I would be part of something in a war zone if that makes sense or helping in a war zone from afar,” Larson said.

Larson says the request for this type of platform came right out of Ukraine.

“So what we saw from the Ukrainian IT army was that they needed a place for people to go low resource in order to find each other because a lot of people were missing, obviously, with, you know, bombings and people dying and people trying to leave and get safe somewhere,” Larson said.

In only a few days, Larson and the other volunteers were able to get DeTy up and running.

“Everybody came together really fast and did it over a weekend which is fantastic. So I say 72 hours because there was a lot of security testing obviously, but, Guise Bule says 48,” Larson said. “It was actually coded in 48 hours.”

Guise Bule is the one who spearheaded the project and says DeTy is designed to work with very poor internet connection and load when nothing else will.

“Very, very poor internet conditions where you might have a bar at 2G,” Bule said. “These are people who’ve lost Internet connections or aren’t able to access a phone line or, you know, caught up in the fog of war.”

DeTy was also made be simple.

Larson says you can enter your own name.

“So this is a good site for people to log on quick, tell somebody they’re safe. Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad. I’m safe. You don’t have to put your location, but you can if you’re really looking to be found, especially I guess another large need is children,” Larson said. “You know, as long as they’re old enough to write their name, they can put their name on the site.”

Or you can enter the name of someone you’re looking for.

For example, if you have a very popular name like John Smith, there’s new entries or new updates too,” Larson said. “Maybe they’ve switched location. You can log back on and check that.”

The circumstances in which DeTy was born, Bule describes as tragic.

“We’ve been flooded with people who are looking for missing loved ones and flooded with people who declare themselves missing,” Bule says.

But Larson says the website has already helped people reconnect.

“Thankfully we have had, have had people who we have had people who have said they were able to locate each other and we think that’s fantastic,” Larson said.

Bule hopes DeTy can be used in other dire situations.

“Our plan is to translate it into 40 languages and gift it to the United Nations,” Bule said.

Another feature coming soon is an “I need help” button. The goal is to help with food, medical supplies, or even evacuation and those requests will be rerouted to those who can help.

Copyright 2022 WEAU. All rights reserved.