CHIPPEWA VALLEY Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – As the war between Russia and Ukraine carries on, more people are losing contact with loved ones. A new website helps make it easier for people to check 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,” said Chippewa Valley resident Kate Larson.
An international group of volunteers with backgrounds in cyber security created a free website called dety.org, which is Ukrainian for where are you.
“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,” said Kate Larson, co-founder of 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,” said Larson. Larson says the request for this type of website came right out of Ukraine
“So, what we saw from the Ukrainian army was that they needed a place for people to go to find each other. A lot of people were missing, obviously, with, you know, bombings and people dying, and people trying to leave and get safe somewhere,” said Larson. And in only a few days, Dety was 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. It was actually coded in 48 hours,” said Larson.
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…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,” said Bule.
Dety was also made to be simple. Larson says you 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, for children. You know, as long as they’re old enough to write their name, they can put their name on the site,” said Larson. Or 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. Maybe they’ve switched locations. You can log back on and yeah, check that,” said Larson. 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,” said Bule. But Larson says it’s already helped people reconnect.
“Thankfully we have had people who have said they were able to locate each other and we think that’s fantastic,” said Larson. And 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,” said Bule. Another feature coming soon is an “I need help” button. The goal is to help with food, medical supplies, or even evacuations. Those requests will be re-routed to those who can help.