Google Maps To Include Emergency Alerts.
Google have launched a crisis response project “Google Public Alerts.”
This platform will allow users to search online for relevant weather, public safety and earthquake events and will include information supplied by The US National and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), The National Weather Service and The US Geological Survey (USGS). This service is currently only available/applicable to the US and it is not known at present if Google plan to include information for non US sources in the future although it would seem that this would be a very popular idea.
Steve Hakusa, Googles Public Alerts Engineer posted the following blog:
“If a major weather event is headed for your area, you might go online to search for the information you need: What’s happening? Where and when will it strike? How severe will it be? What resources are available to help?”
“Whether you see an alert depends on which alerts are active at a given location, their severity, and your search query.”
The site also offers a page “www.google.org/publicalerts” which alows users to view all current alerts for the entire covered regions.
There are calls for Google to allow users to update the site with fresh realtime information utilizing tools such as Twitter, Facebook and possibly a text messaging service due to the fact that these events are constantly changing and people would benefit form on the ground information being regularly updated, it is however unclear whether Google will proceed with this idea.
A statement on the Google.org blog reads as follows:
“The Google Crisis Response team works on providing critical emergency information during crises. Our goal is to surface emergency information through the online tools you use everyday, when that information is relevant and useful.”
Google have provided a hypothetical example of a flood in Indiana showing how the system could work stating:
If you searched “flood Indiana,” you’d see a Google Maps page offering links to local flood-related businesses. However, if there were a flood warning, Google would state there was a “Flood Warning in Northern Indiana” and offer a “more info” link, which would lead to a page like this offering more details on the progress of the flood.
The general opinion is that Google have done this to win back favour after this week being found to be favouring its own Google+ search results over the rest of the social web.
Let us know what you think.