Google and other tech firms have been contributing significantly in the fight against COVID-19 and now, in an attempt to make travelling safer, the search engine giant has added Coronavirus alerts into Google Maps.
From now on, people will see “relevant alerts” in Google Maps from transit agencies regarding mandatory safety precautions they need to take such as wearing face masks. Additionally, if public transport is temporarily suspended due to COVID-19, users will be notified instantly.
Some new alerts are coming to driving mode as well, such as COVID-19 checkpoints or restrictions on the route due to lockdowns. These alerts will be shown on the main direction screen and also when navigation starts.
Maps will make it easier to see how crowded a location is using historical data. For instance, people will be able to see how busy or crowded a train station is with the option to view “crowdedness”. Google Maps product director Ramesh Nagarajan wrote in a blog post:
Simply search for a station in Google Maps or tap on the station on the map to see the departure board and busyness data, where available.
As always, Google promises that the location data used for this feature will be anonymized and will only be used from people who have location history enabled on their Google account. This setting is always off by default.
Lastly, Maps will also alert people to do a bit of research before entering a facility so they’re not turned down. As an example, the app will notify with prompts such as “An appointment may be required for COVID-19 testing here”.
The update will start rolling out this week gradually across different regions.