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The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading fast and the worst hit due to the lockdown are the poor and daily wage labourers. The poor in India are walking hundreds of kilometres to get to their hometowns and villages because they don't have a place to stay or means of getting food daily. The private and public sector is coming together to offer food and shelter to such people, but how can one know if the nearest shelter is a stone's throw away? Google is looking to help with this situation. To help bring respite to people during this difficult time, Google Maps is now indicating the locations of food shelters and night shelters in cities across India. Users will be able to find food location on Google Maps
and night shelters in India amidst the COVID-19
According to a statement Google shared, “Google is working closely with state and central government authorities to surface the locations of these relief centers. To date, across 30 cities, people can now find these locations on Google Maps, Search and Google Assistant by simply searching for ‘Food shelters in <city name>’ or ‘Night shelters in <city name>’ in any of these Google products. This will soon be available in Hindi, with queries like ‘<city name> में भोजन केंद्र’ or ‘<city name> में रैन बसेरा’.”
People can enter the above search query in Google Search or the Google app on phones and can even ask the Google Assistant for this information. The search query will yield results on KaiOS devices as well. Google says that it is working on bringing this feature to other Indian languages as well in the coming weeks. It is also working on adding additional shelters in more cities across the country to the search results.
Google also says that in the coming days this information will be easier to access via quick-access shortcuts that will appear beneath the search bar on the Google Maps app, shortcuts on Google Maps on KaiOS feature phones, and food and night shelter pins appearing on the map by default when the Maps app is first opened.
Commenting on the launch of the feature, Anal Ghosh, Sr. Program Manager, Google India, said, “As the COVID-19 situation develops, we are making a concerted effort to build solutions that help people during these times of need. Highlighting the locations of food and night shelters on Google Maps is a step to make this information easily available to the users in need, and ensure they can avail the food and shelter services being provided by the government authorities. With the help of volunteers, NGOs, and traffic authorities, we hope to convey this important information to the affected people, many of whom may not have access to a smartphone or mobile device during this time."
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