New COVID-19 Features on Google Maps to Help Avoid Busy Areas

Google Maps have launched certain new COVID-19 related features on both Android and iOS operating systems. These features can prove to be reliable when it comes to travelling, especially during this period of coronavirus. 

The official blog of the company mentioned that in the new update of Google Maps, they would be adding features that will help users to quickly access crucial information when they need to step out, whether it’s via public transport or car. 

Google has launched these latest features on Google Maps; however, they are being released to specific regions based on the availability of resources. 

The app will warn a user about how COVID-19 could affect his or her travel. The app will show appropriate updates from local transit agencies concerning public transit. Such warnings will help a user to plan accordingly when government regulations hinder transit systems or demand the user to wear a mask when he or she uses public transport. 

A transit alert will be released in Argentina, India, Belgium, Australia, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, France, Spain, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Thailand.

In case a user is using his or her car or a personal taxi, Google Maps will be providing driving alerts to notify regarding the restrictions and checkpoints along the road. In case a route is affected by these restrictions, the user will see a warning on the directions screen after he starts the navigation.

For people going to medical facilities or COVID-19 test centres, the app shall display a warning reminding the user to validate the eligibility and facility guidelines. This would help prevent the risk of being turned away or even reduce the added burden on the local healthcare system. This hospital function will be available starting this week to Israel, Indonesia, South Korea, the Philippines, and the United States.

Google revealed that this data would be shown only when it receives authoritative data via local, state, and federal governments or via their websites, and when it actively works with the other agencies across the world.

Also Read: IIT Mandi Researchers to Make Masks Using Waste Plastic Bottles

Also, Google Maps is working on an existing feature which will assist public transit users in getting valuable information around how busy a bus or railway station is. 

The app will utilise data from tens of millions of past riders’ inputs to estimate how crowded a given bus or train line appears to be. 

Also, this data will be much easier to access. A user will first need to look up for “Directions”, then tap to view the “Transit Details”, then scroll down to check predictions about how crowded the place is (where available). A user can also quickly apply his or her knowledge to support other travellers.

Information from past users will also display times about how busy a transit station was previously to help a user plan for his or her trip accordingly. 

Also, Google Maps will allow the monitoring of live data to display how busy a station is at that very moment when compared to its average level of activity. A user can either search for a particular station on Google Maps or tap on a specific station on the map to access the data around busyness (where available) as well as the departure board.

Google mentioned that these features are driven by anonymised and aggregated data from users who have chosen for Google Location History, which is a Google account-level setting which is off by default. The company believes that to maintain privacy, these findings only emerge when they have enough data to comply with the privacy thresholds.

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