After months of being locked up in our houses, the country is slowing starting to spring back to action. But the threat of coronavirus is very much present, and it’s likely that India still hasn’t seen its peak. So even if transport, shops and offices open up slowly, it’s important to maintain physical distance. In the absence of a vaccine or medicine, this is really the only way to flatten the curve. Google Maps has released a bunch of new features that will alert users of places that are crowded, medical checkpoints and other important locations.
India is in the first wave of countries getting the feature. Other than India, countries like Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, France, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom and the US are also receiving the feature. It will be available in both iOS and Android apps. Previously, Google Maps had added locations of food and night shelters in India.
“Getting from A to B can be more complicated these days. Because of COVID-19, it’s increasingly important to know how crowded a train station might be at a particular time or whether the bus is running on a limited schedule. Having this information before and during your trip is critical for both essential workers who need to safely navigate to work and will become more important for everyone as countries around the world begin to reopen,” Ramesh Nagarajan, product management director at Google Maps wrote in a blog post.
According to the blog, Google Maps will share relevant information from local transit agencies when you look for directions that are most likely to be restricted during the pandemic.
“This can help you prepare accordingly if government mandates impact transit services or require you to wear a mask on public transportation,” the blog states. The transport alert feature is live in multiple countries including India, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, France, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom and the U.S. These countries will provide information from local transit agencies to Google Maps to help users decide on the steps they need to take before boarding a bus or a train.
Maps is also rolling out a new driver alert feature that informs about COVID-19 checkpoints and restrictions in the route when crossing a national border. This feature will not be in India right now. Only Canada, Mexico and the US will get the feature.
If you are going to a COVID testing centre or heading to a medical facility, Maps will alert you to verify eligibility and follow guidelines of the facility so you don’t get turned away by the medical authorities. Google will receive data from local, state and federal governments and their websites. It’s not clear whether this feature will be coming to India.