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Google Offers Homeless Free Voicemail  (Source: MSNBC)
Google says the voicemail will allow doctors and employers to contact the homeless

The problem for many homeless job seekers and homeless people with medical conditions is that while they can get assistance with healthcare and looking for a job, they don’t typically have a way for doctors or potential employers to contact them.

Google announced this week that it would offer free voicemail to every homeless person in San Francisco. The voicemail will cost the homeless people nothing and messages can be retrieved from any phone. The users would be able to leave their own personal greetings and the numbers are theirs to keep forever.

Google says that there will be nothing to indicate to people calling the voicemail that it is anything other than a standard local number. This will allow homeless to fill out job applications and leave a contact number, making them more likely to find work. The numbers can also be used to allow doctors and clinics to contact users as well as giving family a way to reach the homeless.

Craig Walker, senior project manager at Google told MSNBC, "It just seems exactly like any other voicemail. There's no stigma attached to it that 'hey this is a temporary thing' or 'this is an 800 number.' It's really just a local number owned by the user."

The program is ready to start in San Francisco right away and if successful could be rolled out to more cities across the country in the future. Google also announced another new imitative today called Google Health that allows people to keep medical records in one place.

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Great idea
By Haven Bartton on 2/29/2008 1:48:07 PM , Rating: 5
Wow, this is a great idea. It's this sort of innovative action that's going to help people get off the streets. I live in Vancouver where we have a very significant homeless problem and I think that this, along with various other initiatives, would be a step in the right direction.

It is, of course, dependant on Google's altruism though. I wonder if the voicemails are being scanned for ad data...?

RE: Great idea
By Curelom on 2/29/2008 1:51:31 PM , Rating: 3
What are you going to sell to a homeless person?

RE: Great idea
By Flunk on 2/29/2008 2:00:02 PM , Rating: 3
After they get a job? Lots of things. People remember who helped them out when they were down.

RE: Great idea
By Aranthos on 3/1/2008 11:49:39 AM , Rating: 2
I honestly have no idea, but I suppose a house would be important to them. Just a guess...

RE: Great idea
By GlassHouse69 on 3/2/2008 1:14:58 AM , Rating: 2
oh jeez :)

bad joke :)

Yes, imprinting google in their minds is the reason google does it.

yes also this is what they need. (i know many homeless people who have voicemail in NYC already, actually)

RE: Great idea
By dever on 2/29/2008 2:37:01 PM , Rating: 2
I picked up one of these GrandCentral numbers a while back when the beta was more open. It's really a cool system. You select an area code, then a number from a list of available ones. You can set different messages or actions based on the person calling you or the group they've been assigned. You can also have a link to the voice message emailed to you and listen to it online.

RE: Great idea
By tastyratz on 2/29/08, Rating: -1
RE: Great idea
By spluurfg on 3/1/2008 2:58:02 PM , Rating: 2
It is, of course, dependant on Google's altruism though. I wonder if the voicemails are being scanned for ad data...?

Well they picked SF, the largest city near Silicon Valley, so maybe that's showing that they are interested in an area near them. If they wanted to sell stuff to the homeless, they should have picked London, where the 'homeless' people have cell phones.

RE: Great idea
By derwin on 3/1/2008 5:57:33 PM , Rating: 2
If you want to assume google is out to get someone here, you will find a way, no doubt; but there are more profitable endeavors, more media attracting stunts and more informative data mining schemes google could be pulling but are not.

I for one find this to lighten my heart. Its nice to see Americans taking care of Americans. Shoot - people taking care of people.

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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