Google Improves SOS Alerts to Navigate You Away from Danger

Google SOS Alert, also known as Google’s natural disaster alerts was launched about two years ago, is going to get some updates in the following couple of weeks. It will present more visual information for natural disasters, plus introduce a new navigation warning system.

SOS alerts is a feature in Google Search and Maps to help people quickly understand what’s going on and decide what to do during a crisis. Currently, SOS alerts contain the following:

  • A summary of what’s happening
  • Relevant news stories
  • Emergency phone numbers and websites Twitter updates from local authorities
  • Tips to help people find safety

During a crisis, whenever someone is searching for an incident or a location affected by the incident, may see an SOS Alert at the top of the search results. You’ll see maps, top stories and also authoritative local information such as emergency phone numbers, websites, and translations of useful phrases. Depending on how close you are to the affected area, you may also get a notification on your mobile device that directs you to these information. Even if you’re outside of the affected area, you will still get the SOS alert at top of your searched results.

SOS Alerts in Google Search Engine; Image Source:

Not only Google Search but also Google Maps on mobile can also show SOS Alerts. while navigating, you’ll see a specific icon on the map and a tappable card with more information about the crisis. Information such as helpful phone numbers and websites.

These alerts are not automated, it appears that the alerts are created and curated by Google staff. It means Google’s teams have to pick and choose which events get SOS Alerts. About this Google has already warned and in its help page that “While we can’t guarantee that you’ll see an SOS Alert for every major crisis, we aim to make them available more broadly over time”.

The new update on Google SOS Alert will show you more detailed visual information about earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods, with a visual overlay to show the impacted areas which will give you a better understanding of the situation on the ground.

The route for a Hurricane is shown in the Google Map; Image Source:

If you’re near any hurricane impacted area, a crisis notification card will automatically appear on Google Maps in the days leading up to that hurricane. The card will direct you to a hurricane forecast cone. The forecast cone will show the prediction of the storm’s trajectory along with information such as in what time it’s likely to hit certain areas, so you can use this information to plan how to react.

Earthquake alerts will show the epicenter and magnitude; Image Source:

The notification card is not the same for crisis. The card will display earthquake’s shakemap. Shakemap is basically a visualization that shows you its epicenter, its magnitude, along with color coding to indicate how intense the shaking was in surrounding areas.

Flooding alerts will show the affected area and its severity; Image Source:

During any flood crisis, you’ll now be able to see flood forecasts that will specifically show you where flooding is likely to occur in addition to the expected severity in different areas.

Navigation warning on Google Maps about a Hurricane; Image Source:

Notification card is not the only thing which will be added in the new update, you will also get crisis navigation warnings on Google Maps. We frequently use Google Map to navigate the best possible route for our destination. After the new update is activated, whenever you search for the route for your destination, you will see a prominent alert if there is a chance that the route may be affected by crisis activity. When possible, Google Maps will direct users away from the disrupted area and will show any other safer route.

The Google Maps Notification card and navigation warnings will both be available globally. Navigation warnings will be available on iOS and Android. Earthquakes notification will be visible on Android, iOS, desktop and also on mobile web, while the navigation warnings will be on iOS and Android only. Flood visualizations will be supported on Android, desktop, and the mobile web, but for now they will only be available in India where the risk of drowning in a flood is particularly high. Finally, hurricane visual forecasts will be available across all platforms in the US, Caribbean, Mexico, Japan, Western Europe, Taiwan, Philippines, China, Vietnam, Thailand, and South Korea.

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