Google SOS Alert

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 In July 2017 Google launched SOS Alert for both search and maps, having recognised the need for digital access to timely, accountable information in times of crisis. Google has collaborated with immediate response organisations and government agencies such as Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration and more. 

 
The company says “major natural, manmade, or humanitarian disasters” will activate the alerts, but it “can’t guarantee that you’ll see an SOS Alert for every major crisis”. If you’re nearby, it may display a banner notifying you of the ongoing crisis and displaying emergency information and resources. If you have the latest version of the Google app and have your location turned on, you may also receive a notification on your phone’s home screen. If you’re not in the immediate vicinity of the disaster, you won’t get a notification but will be able to access SOS Alerts by searching for information about the incident. Similarly, instead of seeing an emergency phone number, Google may instead show you a link to make a donation. 
 

How Does Google SOS Alert Work?

 
Now when searching in Google for an incident or location you will be provided with top stories, maps of effected area, emergency help and information as well as useful translation phrases. All information is continually updated to provide up to the minute current information.
                                                                                     
Google maps via mobile also provides current help and information. The affected area will be high-lighted as seen in the image with a bold bright red dot. Click on the icon and you will be provided with up-to-date traffic information, road closures and transport information as well as emergency numbers  contacts and websites.
 
 
Google also announced in addition to SOS Alerts and other crisis response features:
 
  • Google Person Finder
  • Google Crisis Map
  • Google Public Alerts
Their philanthropic arm Google.org will provide grants and volunteers for communities impacted by crisis.
 
Whilst the ideal scenario would be to not be part of a crisis, with natural disaster and terrorist attacks being a frequent occurrence it is an extremely helpful tool to have should we need it. With all information available at hand, safety is ultimate priority.
 
Google SOS Alerts complements Facebook Safety Check which works in the following way..
 
When an incident such as an earthquake, hurricane, mass shooting or building collapse occurs where people might be in danger, the global crisis reporting agency NC4 alerts Facebook. If a lot of people in the affected area are posting about the incident, Safety Check will be activated and those people in the area may receive a notification from Facebook to mark themselves safe. People can also ask their Facebook friends if they’re safe by going to Safety Check and clicking Ask if Safe.
 
Google SOS is largely meant to help out people who are actively looking for information about a disaster. But Google says that in some cases, it may send out push alerts to people in a disaster area directing them to this information, too.
 

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