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Google Maps Will Soon Show Pertinent COVID-19 Alerts

Google is adding new COVID-19 alerts to its Maps app to provide more information about virus-related restrictions. The new information is being integrated into the platform as more states reopen.

by Rex Crum, The Mercury News / June 9, 2020
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(TNS) — Google said Monday it’s adding new features to its Maps program that are designed to provide individuals with more information about coronavirus-related restrictions for services such as public transit and local COVID-19 testing centers.

The new features are becoming available amid an increase in new coronavirus case in California as cities and counties across the state have begun to reopen after almost three months of restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the disease.

The alerts will include information such as if transit services have been disrupted or had a schedule change because of coronavirus, as well as information that shows when train or bus stations have been historically more or less busy at specific times of the day. Google Maps will also provide information for drivers about possible COVID-19 checkpoints along a highway, such as at national borders.

Google said the information for its transit alerts comes from anonymous data from individuals using Google location history, a setting in a person’s Google account that is turned off by default, and which a person has to turn on to utilize.

Additionally, Google Maps will soon provide information about eligibility requirements for local coronavirus testing locations, such as if a testing facility requires a reservation ahead of time, or if a site is limited to a certain number of tests per day.

“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,” said Ramesh Nagarajan, product management director of Google Maps, in a statement about the new features.

Google said the new features will initially be available on Android and Apple iOS devices in the United States, the U.K., Australia and 10 other countries.

©2020 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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