Google Maps will now feature information on local Covid-19 cases

24 Sep 2020681 Views

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Google Maps is introducing a new feature that highlights critical information about Covid-19 cases in different areas.

On Wednesday (23 September), Google Maps announced that it is rolling out a new feature that highlights local Covid-19 data to help users understand how many cases are in a particular area.

The company has some existing measures in place to help users make travel decisions during the pandemic, such as Covid-19 alerts in transit, Covid-19 checkpoints in driving navigation, and features that show popular visiting times at venues.

But a new Covid-19 layer for Google Maps will show critical information about the number of Covid-19 cases in an area so that users can make informed decisions about where to go and what to do. Sujoy Banerjee, product manager at Google Maps, explained in a company blogpost how this Covid-19 layer will work on the navigation app.

A phone with the Google Maps app open. It is showing a map of different regions in South America. Most are coloured orange, but some regions are coloured in red to indicate a higher prevalence of Covid-19.

Country and state-level data in South America. Image: Google

How it works

Banerjee explained that users will be able to tap on the layers button on the top right-hand corner of the Google Maps screen to select ‘Covid-19 info’.

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This will show users a seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people for the area of the map they’re looking at. Google Maps also provides a label that indicates whether the cases are trending up or down.

Trending case data will be visible at the country level for all 220 countries and territories that Google Maps supports, along with state, province, county and city-level data where available.

Data featured in the new Covid-19 layer on Google Maps comes from a number of sources including John Hopkins University, the New York Times and Wikipedia. These sources already power Covid-19 case information in Google’s search engine.

Banerjee said that each of these sources get their data from public health organisations such as the World Health Organization, government health ministries, and state and local health agencies and hospitals.

“While getting around is more complicated these days, our hope is that these Google Maps features will help you get where you need to be as safely and efficiently as possible,” Banerjee said. “The Covid-19 layer starts rolling out worldwide on Android and iOS this week.”

Kelly Earley is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

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