Getting the right information when you need it during an emergency can greatly improve the outcome of any situation. Google understands this, and to make it easier for searchers to find out what’s really happening during a crisis, the company is introducing SOS Alerts.
The new feature is being added to search results and Google Maps, offering emergency information in much the same you may think of emergency radio and tv broadcasts.
How SOS Alerts Works
SOS Alerts will now show a variety of useful information, including but not limited to:
- Emergency contact information
- Updates made by local authorities
- News updates
- Relief effort donation opportunities
Another major benefit is that you’ll be able to locate blocked travel routes and detours quickly. This can help keep even more people out of harm’s way, especially during emergencies like flooding or wildfire.
Recent reports state that the new alerts will not be automated, but created and curated by Google staff. At this point, not all events will be covered, but the company aims to grow its coverage over time.
Although SOS Alerts are created specifically for individuals searching for such information, Google has also mentioned the possibility that individuals may also receive push notifications when located in the designated disaster area.
The emergency alert move made by Google seems to be a direct response to the recent “Safety Check” feature offered by Facebook, which allows users to “check in” so friends know they’re safe during the time of a disaster.
Safety Check has gotten mixed reviews thus far, with many claiming the feature to be annoying when activated and over-used by friends and family during minor emergencies like subway derailments in NYC. Google hopes to avoid these inconveniences by making their service informational only.
Working with a variety of agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Red Cross, Google will be sourcing the information soon to be available on desktop search, mobile search, Google apps for Android and iOS and Google Maps for mobile.
For more information about Google’s new SOS Alerts, click here.