Friday, December 3, 2021

Google Maps rolling out new Covid-19 travel safety information

Google has started rolling out new Covid-19 related safety information to the iOS and Android apps of Google Maps. Starting in the US, Canada and Mexico, the app will flag driving routes that might be disrupted, while public transport information is coming to Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, France, India, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom and the U.S.

In a blog post Product Management Director Ramesh Nagarajan said the app will show people in these countries official alerts from transport agencies that service their route and driving alerts of official Covid-19 checkpoints and restrictions, particularly in the US where border crossings can be subject to testing.

Of the driving alerts, Nagarajan said, “When navigating to medical facilities or COVID-19 testing centers, we’ll display an alert reminding you to verify eligibility and facility guidelines to avoid being turned away or causing additional strain on the local healthcare system. Starting this week, alerts for medical facilities will be available in Indonesia, Israel, the Philippines, South Korea, and the U.S., and testing center alerts will be available in the U.S.”

The blog also highlights Maps’ existing Transit Details feature that can tell how crowded buses and trains are before you board them.  

Image: Google

On the data privacy implications of this ongoing service, Nagarajan commented:

“Rolling out over the next several weeks, these capabilities are powered by aggregated and anonymized data from users who have opted in to Google Location History, a Google account-level setting that is off by default. To protect privacy, these insights are only surfaced when we have sufficient data to meet privacy thresholds.”

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The feature will also roll out more to include when transit stations are historically busy so you can plan when to be there to safely social distance if your nation still requires that you do.


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