Google SOS alerts to keep users safe during a disaster

July 26, 2017: Google has added a number of emergency features to Maps and Search.

SOS Alerts have been developed with the aim of delivering important updates to users during major disasters.

These include maps, news reports, emergency phone numbers and translations of local phrases.

The company says “major natural, manmade, or humanitarian disasters” will activate the alerts, but it “can’t guarantee that you’ll see an SOS Alert for every major crisis”.

Facebook has been criticised in the past for a perceived lack of consistency with its own emergency tool, Safety Check.

It has also been accused of spreading fear unnecessarily.

In Maps, Google's SOS Alerts will tell you what’s going on in the area, warn you about road closures and point you towards emergency resources, such as helpful numbers and websites.

In Search, SOS Alerts will offer different levels of detail, depending on how close you are to the incident.

If you’re nearby, it may display a banner notifying you of the ongoing crisis and displaying emergency information and resources.

If you have the latest version of the Google app and have your location turned on, you may also receive a notification on your phone’s home screen.

If you’re not in the immediate vicinity of the disaster, you won’t get a notification but will be able to access SOS Alerts by searching for information about the incident.

Similarly, instead of seeing an emergency phone number, Google may instead show you a link to make a donation.

“In times of crisis, access to timely, actionable information is crucial. Working alongside trained responders and volunteers on the ground, technology plays a vital role in providing information to help keep you and loved ones safe and informed,” said Google.

“We have teams around the world who source content from government agencies, first responders, trusted media outlets, and NGOs. We also aggregate information from other Google products and services, such as Google News, Google Maps, Waze, and more.”

Information Source: Independent

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