Google SOS Alerts can help people in crisis
Google will now warn people about a natural or human caused crisis that may be looming at their location, such as a reported fire outbreak, landslide, flash flood or a terrorist attack. You will get notifications about it on your smartphone.
The new feature will be called SOS alerts and will be available to all Android and iOS users through Google Search and Maps app. What makes it different from their other emergency-related services such as Person Finder and Crisis Maps is that users don’t have to go to a specific website or app for the information, which will be made available to them within the features they use every day.
Information about a crisis will be bundled together with red theme colour and will show at the top on the Google search page. The first card will have all the top stories and will be followed by cards on any official update, affected areas and the contact details of relevant authorities or NGOs involved in the rescue and relief operations. People closer to the crisis will get more information than others, depending on location tracking. Beginning with mobile notifications, they will also get to see official alerts and tweets by users stuck in the area.
In Google Maps, a specific icon will show on the map along with a pop-up card. Tapping on the card will reveal the same set of information about the crisis we saw on the Search page, such as phone numbers and websites of relevant authorities. In case you are driving, real-time traffic updates and transit detail on Maps can come in handy.
The idea is to put the information right into the hands of users through two of the most-used Google apps so they can avoid the disaster affected area in time.
The feature is mostly information based and doesn’t have an active social element. Unlike Facebook’s Safety check where you can tell a friend or family member that you are safe and even check about their status, SOS alerts has no such option. Google has tools such as Trusted Contacts which allows smartphones users to share their whereabouts with their trusted contacts, but requires users as well as others to download a separate app for it.
SOS alerts will be managed by a team of Google experts who will closely monitor an unfolding crisis to determine whether it deserves an alert or not.