There’s no denying that Google plays a significant role in our day-to-day lives. Most of us google stuff all the time, watch YouTube videos, have a Gmail account, and use Google applications to do many routine tasks. Google has several tools that have made it a model of convenience. However, convenience is not necessarily the same as safety.
Google Maps, arguably the most popular navigation app in the United States, is a fantastic tool. Many users use the app to map the best routes since it updates traffic in real time and reroutes you as necessary. Like most Google products, Google Maps includes features that aren’t apparent or advertised and can be used to keep you and your loved ones safe.
Google Maps and COVID-19 precautions
Google has rolled out a series of features since the pandemic started to help users navigate the world more safely. Most of these features rely on data provided by Google Map users and agencies in a community effort to have the most accurate and updated information available.
If you need to go to a hospital or COVID-19 testing center, Google Maps will remind you to reach out to the medical center of your choice and verify if it has the capacity to accept you as a patient. Even today, a little over a year since the pandemic started, many hospitals across the country are reporting significant drops in their capacity to care for patients. This Google Maps feature may be the difference between arriving at a hospital with the proper resources to care for you and one that is ill-equipped.
Another useful Google Maps feature is the ability to see live busyness updates. This feature has been around since 2016, but it has never been as essential as it is now. Engagement with this feature has increased, and Google has opted to expand its capabilities to include outdoor areas, grocery stores, pharmacies, and more. A similar feature is available for public transportation services, letting users know if they are operational at the moment. If public transport is working, it will also show how crowded you can expect your ride to be and give you other route options to consider.
Disaster alerts in Google Maps
Google Maps hasn’t limited its functionality to help with the pandemic alone. The world’s landscape is changing quickly and bringing climate risks along for the ride, so it makes sense for Google to address users’ needs.
Google Maps has been adding features throughout the years to alert users of disasters happening in their area. One of the most recent updates has been the ability to map wildfires. This feature was initially launched in 2017 as part of the SOS Alerts system, but it has seen a massive overhaul from what it once was.
Using satellite data, Google Maps shows the size and location of an ongoing wildfire. Users will also receive warnings if they are coming too close to the blaze. An ambient alert will show users the latest information so that they can make the best decisions regarding their safety. This overhaul of the wildfire SOS Alerts is a beneficial addition to the tools offered by Google Maps regarding other climate ordeals, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods.
Active shooter alerts in Google Maps
Mass shootings in the United States have made gun safety an important topic of conversation in the United States in recent years, with many debating if guns are the right answer to keep us safe. No matter what opinion you hold on this debate, it’s essential to be informed.
One of the least advertised Google Maps features is the active shooter alert that launched back in 2018. When an active shooting is confirmed, Google Maps pings the location of the incident, so users can avoid the area and reroute if necessary. The alert also shows users when the information has been updated and allows users to share the alert and location with others.
Information can keep you and your loved ones safe
Google, along with its myriad of applications and features, is a tool you can leverage to keep you and your family safe. Information is essential for safety, so the data needs to be as accurate and as current as possible. That’s why we appreciate Google Maps and its features that provide the data and context necessary to protect what matters most.