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26 Jul 2017

Google adds SOS Alerts in Search results and Maps tools

Google to provide real-time coverage of affected areas

Google will now show information about unfolding natural disasters, terrorism and similar crises in its Search and Maps tools.

Those accessing these tools will be shown updates from concerned authorities, news items, emergency numbers and more in a single place.

Its SOS Alerts option can also be used to set mobile notifications to those present in the vicinity of affected areas.

Here's more.

In context

Google to provide real-time coverage of affected areas
An amalgamation of past experiences


An amalgamation of past experiences

This initiative is based on the previous efforts made by the online giant like Person Finder and Crisis Map tools.

This time around, instead of any added efforts at the users' end, it wants to bring pertinent information directly into two of its widely used services.

Currently, Google is looking for partners so that, it can improve its SOS Alerts service.


What to do and what not to

The Maps tool will now show areas that should ideally be avoided, roads that can't be traveled and places, where the user can seek shelter.

The firm's crowd-sourced Waze mapping platform data will show where accidents, traffic jams, and others have been reported.

The amount of information provided will depend largely on how far the person, making the query, is from the incident.

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Varying degree of information


Varying degree of information

If the users making the query are nearby the incident, they'll be provided with links to official alerts, useful short colloquial phrases, and tweets from the first responders.

Those making the query from afar will be given fewer details unless they ask for more.

If Google finds it apt, it'll provide links to charities working at the ground-level for donation purposes.


A separate team for the operation

Google informed that it had set up a dedicated team to decide incidents that will qualify for SOS Alerts. It didn't, however, reveal the strength of the said team.

Facebook offers a similar service, where those in the disaster zone inform others via the platform that they are safe. The social media giant has often faced major flak for using it in ill-suited situations.

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