Google is looking to keep its users safe in the real world by rolling out a new information alert system, called SOS Alerts, to its Maps and Search services.
The new features will display relevant information to users near an ongoing crisis, whether it’s a natural disaster, terror attack or any other dangerous situation. Those closest to the epicenter will be shown the greatest amount of information, such as official updates from local authorities, news from first responders, emergency telephone numbers and even useful phrases in the local language. The further a person is from danger the less info they’ll be shown, unless they specifically click through to it.
On the Maps side, users will also be shown where the incident is taking place and locations where they can seek refuge. The feature also ties-in with Google’s other mapping product, Waze, which can offer real-time traffic info and suggestions for the best routes away from danger.
These new features are a continuation on Google’s previous efforts in this area, like its Person Finder and Crisis Map tools. However, as the BBC reports, the new service will be much more easily accessible, without the users needing to do anything at all. Google has set up a dedicated team which is responsible of deciding when and where the SOS Alerts system will be turned on.
Unfortunately, the safety features will only be fully available in 12 initial locations, including the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, India, Brazil and a few other places where the search giant has partnered with the Red Cross and local authorities for the program. Other locations, like the UK and EU will only received limited updates and information, due to lack of local partners.