Google has been playing a key role in ensuring that authentic information reaches the users during the pandemic and this is another step in that direction.
Google Maps and COVID-19: As the places are reopening after coronavirus lockdown, the latest update of Google Maps has brought a feature that aims to keep people safe when they are out and about. In a statement, Google Maps Product Management Director Ramesh Nagarajan said that important information regarding public transportation or information needed while getting to places by private vehicle will now be available in Google Maps.
COVID-19: Alerts for public transit and driving routes
The Google statement said that if a person is checking for directions for a trip where COVID-19 restrictions are in place, Google Maps will alert the users about relevant information from local transit agencies. This will help commuters be prepared for any and all of these restrictions, like if the local authorities require the commuters to wear masks on public transportation. The statement said that the alerts are at present being rolled out in India, France, Argentina, Belgium, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, Netherlands, Colombia, Spain, the US, the UK and Thailand, since the information for these countries is available with the tech giant. More countries will be included soon, it said.
The statement also stated that driving alerts will also be notified to the users regarding the coronavirus checkpoints or restrictions along the commuter’s driving route. The alerts will be visible on the directions screen and also once navigation has started if the route is impacted by such restrictions, the company said.
Moreover, if the commuter is heading to medical facilities or testing centres for COVID-19, an alert will be displayed to remind the users to verify the eligibility and facility guidelines so that the commuter is not turned away and nor does he cause any additional strain on the healthcare system. However, these alerts for medical facilities would be available in the US, South Korea, Indonesia, Israel and the Philippines and the alert for testing centres would be available in the US only from this week, since these alerts are only being sounded once authoritative information has been received from the local, state or central governments.
Google Maps: Crowdedness information
Google Maps had last year introduced the feature to predict the crowdedness of a public transit station based on the inputs of millions of users, which helped future commuters check how crowded a bus or train is likely to be on a particular route. Moreover, features like temperatures, accessibility, presence of securities onboard and sections for women were also announced in February this year.
The tech giant has now said that these features will be rolled out globally, so that commuters can find the feedback of past users, if available, and also submit their own feedback. Now, users would be able to easily check the times when a station is likely to be more crowded based on previous incidents to plan the trips. Moreover, live data can also be tracked for a particular station to see how busy it is as compared to the usual activity levels. This can be done simply by searching for the station or tapping on the station on the map.
The features will be rolled out over the next few weeks and will be based on the aggregated and anonymous data from users who have opted for Google Location History, which is a Google account setting set on ‘off’ by default. Google further said that to preserve the privacy of the users, such insights only surface once the company has enough data to meet the privacy thresholds.
Google has been playing a key role in ensuring that authentic information reaches the users during the pandemic and this is another step in that direction, so that users can remain as safe as possible.