Technology

Google is bringing SOS Alerts for disasters to its search and map results

Google will alert users in search results and on maps of ongoing emergencies or disasters.

Google is to begin showing SOS Alerts in Search and Maps results giving details on disasters and latest information on how to help.

The tech giant said the alerts will appear when users search for locations currently experiencing a crisis or disaster and will show news stories and emergency telephone numbers.

Google Search
(Yui Mok/PA)

Google said those located close to a crisis area may also receive notifications on their smartphone that direct them to information on the situation.

Google’s vice president of engineering Yossi Matias said: “In times of crisis, access to timely, actionable information is crucial.

“Working alongside trained responders and volunteers on the ground, technology plays a vital role in providing information to help keep you and loved ones safe and informed.

“SOS Alerts is a new set of features in Google Search and Maps to help you quickly understand what’s going on and decide what to do during a crisis.”

Google Search
(Gareth Fuller/PA)

Facebook already offers a Safety Check tool that enables those close to a disaster or crisis zone to mark themselves as safe on the social network, alerting friends and family to their well-being.

Google says it has worked with a range of crisis response organisations in order to develop the new alerts tool, including the Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

FEMA’s director Robert Glenn said: “Radio and television were once the only channels to quickly provide information in an emergency, but the internet and mobile phones have become increasingly important.”

The SOS Alerts system will sit alongside the tech firm’s other crisis response features, Google said. These include its Public Alerts system which offers a platform for issuing emergency messages such as storm warnings.

This system is currently active in 12 countries, including the US, India and Australia, but not the UK.

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