Google Maps unveils new Covid-19 alerts as cities reopen

The new features will help users plan their trips by helping them avoid busy transit times and alert drivers of any restrictions on their way

FILE - In this Nov. 12, 2015, file photo, a man walks past a building on the Google campus in Mountain View, Calif. Google said state-based hackers have targeted the campaigns of both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, although it saw no evidence that the phishing attempts were successful. The company confirmed the findings after the director of its Threat Analysis Group, Shane Huntley, disclosed the attempts Thursday, June 4, 2020, on Twitter. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Alphabet-owned Google is introducing new alerts to its Maps service to help users remain safe in cities that are easing Covid-19 restrictions and reopening as the number of infections decline.

The new features will provide users with important information while venturing out – whether by car or public transport, the company said.

“Getting from A to B can be more complicated these days … 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,” said Ramesh Nagarajan, Google Maps’ product management director.

Having this information before and during the trip is “critical for essential workers who need to safely navigate to work and will become more important for everyone as countries around the world begin to reopen”.

Google Maps, which claims to have more than one billion monthly active users, offers live traffic updates in more than 171 countries.

The company said the new transit alerts would be widely available in the coming weeks.

The service will be launched first in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, France, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain, Thailand, the UK and the US, where Google Maps already has information from local transit agencies.

Additional alerts are being built into the service to notify drivers about Covid-19 checkpoints and restrictions along their routes.

In addition, public transport users will be able to see the times when a particular station is at its busiest in order to plan their trips accordingly.

Google is showing these alerts where “we have received authoritative data from local, state and federal governments or from their websites”, Mr Nagarajan said.

“We are actively working with other agencies around the world to bring even more of this helpful data to users.”

Interested agencies can contact Google for driving restrictions and transit alerts, the company said.

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