Google has announced that its Public Alerts service will be available for floods in India. In a post on its official blog, the company has stated that users will be able to get flood alerts as well as river level information via data provided by the Central Water Commission (CWC). This information will be available in more than 170 areas, where the CWC has active observation stations. These alerts will be available on Google web search, Google Now cards in the Google app, Google Maps and on the Public Alerts homepage on desktops and smartphones. Clicking on the alert will give additional information such as a map, expected timeline, tips on how to stay safe, and more.
In its post, Google stated, “We’re constantly working to improve our Google Crisis Response tools to make critical information more accessible around natural disasters. Through Public Alerts we show relevant official weather, public safety and earthquake alerts to give people the information they need to make informed decisions in times of crisis. For example, cyclone alerts which we introduced in 2015 show information about the cyclone’s projected area of impact, estimated time of arrival, and advice on what to do to stay safe”
It is heartening to see technology companies coming together to help those affected during disasters. During the recent floods in Chennai, Facebook activated its Safety Check tool for those affected by the disaster. This allowed people to mark themselves or their friends ‘safe’, and offered a way to reassure family and friends.
Back in 2014, it was reported that Google had partnered with Twitter to incorporate tweets from disaster-struck locations into its Public Alerts service. If a disaster alert was sounded, it would include relevant tweets in Google Now, search, Maps, and the Public Alerts Website. The company had said that the aim is to have tweets help answer questions in emergency situations.
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