While California faces wildfires and Louisiana prepares for two hurricanes, Google has mapped out a new emergency safety feature to keep users informed of nearby weather crises.
Google Maps and Android users can use Google’s updated safety detection feature to find out when and where a natural disaster is about to strike—and what to do when it does. Through the emergency alert feature, users can find places to seek shelter or routes to take to quickly evacuate an area. Google extended the feature to its search bar, meaning when someone searches for something like “earthquakes in San Francisco” their results will include relevant information about any current earthquake’s scope and size, as well as any route, road traffic, or closures a user may need to know when trying to leave the area. Using geolocation, Google Maps will also send out SOS alerts to any users in the immediate vicinity of a weather emergency.
Google is working with several weather-focused organizations to provide up to date information on current and upcoming natural disasters. Using data from the United States Geological Survey and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Google can send accurate information about fires, hurricanes, and earthquakes to users around the U.S. The search giant is also working in California to send “Shake Alerts” to Android users that will notify them when an earthquake is about to hit, potentially giving people a few extra minutes to seek shelter. The Android alerts are currently test-running only in California, but could be rolled out to new states and countries in the near future. Google’s emergency weather support could lead to more Google Maps downloads and higher interactivity rates from iOS and Android users. Particularly as mobile users’ appetite for accurate information grows, those seeking up-to-the-minute information about natural disasters and bad weather could be drawn to Google Maps’ new feature, according to a Gartner report.
Through its new emergency alert system, Google could help millions of people create a safety plan or adequately seek shelter before a weather emergency. With natural disasters happening all around the world and at a more frequent rate, the tech giant could expand its safety feature to keep users across continents in-the-know, potentially boosting its image as a trustworthy weather source.