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Google implements SOS alerts for nearby crises

Google has launched SOS Alert for search that provides information on ongoing emergencies.

The SOS Alerts pop up whenever someone searches for the name of an event or location. It provides information like maps of the damage, top stories, and even statements from local authorities when available.

If the user is close by, the Alert will provide emergency numbers. Users may even be sent a notification if their Google app is up-to-date and location is on.

For those removed from the situation, information on where to donate might be provided.

Google says that both natural and human-caused emergencies will be included

The feature has also been implemented in Maps, where a tappable icon will appear over the area affected. Clicking the icon will pull up a card with phone numbers and websites for more detail. The map will also include updates for road closures and traffic.

Google says that both natural and human-caused emergencies will be included. It has said it looks at a number of factors before creating an SOS Alert, including regional internet connectivity, availability of authoritative information, and “impact on the ground”.

The company did not elaborate on how this information would be used, but it made a point to mention that not all major crises would receive one. Instead, Google pointed towards its other philanthropic efforts that includes grant-making, volunteering, and satellite imagery collection.

The discrepancy provides an out for the company should it not create an alert for political reasons.

Featured image: Glenn Beltz via Flickr (CC BY 2.0, edited)

Author | Julia Breakey

Julia Breakey
Julia is a UCT film graduate with a passion for dogs, media, and dog-centric media. If she's not gushing about the new television show that you need to watch, she's rewatching The Good Place (which you need to watch). More

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