Alphabet Inc. the parent company of Google Maps, announced that the map service will now alert users about Covid-19 related travel restrictions on your travel route.
The new facility is available in some countries, including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, France, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. More countries are expected to be added to the system soon.
The travel alert will display on the directions screen if your interstate or international route is impacted. These alerts will also appear when you visit a Covid testing facility or medical unit to verify any guidelines or eligibility criteria. This feature is at present available in Canada, Mexico, and the United States.
Google has been working on this system for some months and has been collecting data received from concerned governmental authorities and nodal medical centres. Google has also been tracking location data of its users from 131 countries to understand mobility under lockdown. This information was shared with health authorities to keep a check on people’s movements under lockdown.
Google Maps will provide information on the local bus and train schedules in the Covid-19 situation and even about the number of people expected at a particular time in trains or buses to avoid a crowded transit.
Having this information before and during your trip will help people navigate safely to work as more and more countries reopen.
This data is fueled by tens of millions of contributions from Google Maps users who ride public transit. Google used data analyses and deep learning to make predictions about the train and bus station crowd strengths. And users can now even contribute their experiences on the updated app.
One needs to go to Transit directions, see the crowdedness predictions and add your own input, like “very crowded” or “not too crowded,” or other measures. One can even see historical data to know when the stations are most crowded. One can also look at live data by searching for a station in Google Maps.
Google intends to add to this feature by adding a departure display board along with busyness display.
In its press release, Google said that the data is collected from users who have opted in to Google Location History. This setting is switched off by default, and Google only displays the data when it has enough input to meet privacy thresholds.
These services will be available for Google Maps on Android and iOS.
Google Maps had announced in February new insights such as temperature, accessibility, and security onboard, as well as designated women’s sections in regions where transit systems have them. These insights are now rolled out globally, and give feedback from past riders and allow one to add one’s own experience.
Google has also added more granular information for wheelchair accessibility, and one can find out where all these are available, including facilities like wheelchair-accessible doors, seating, stop buttons, and more.
The Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has changed the way people go about their business, and with countries around the globe reopening and resuming normal activities, it is imperative that people observe necessary social distancing and other norms. Services and information provided by Google Maps make this transit to a new norm safer and healthier.