Google is now rolling out its Maps app's security features to make public transit safer amid the novel Coronavirus pandemic.
The tech giant announced in today's official blog post that the new features are designed to equip travelers and commuters with information about possible COVID-19-related impacts.
"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," Google Maps product management director Ramesh Nagarajan wrote in a blog post.
"Having this information before and during your trip is critical for both essential workers who need to navigate to work safely and become more important for everyone as countries around the world begin to reopen," he added.
What's in the new update?
Google Map's feature includes checkpoints, travel restrictions, and even the degree of crowding on public transportation. Google streamlined the function, which they offered last year.
Google also builds on a feature it rolled out last year predicting how crowded a train, subway or bus will be.
Now, users can scroll down to find crowdedness forecasts, while following transit directions, and add their own observations.
Users will also see data on when a transit station is more or less crowded historically. They can also opt to view live data by pulling up a station on Google Maps. This feature rolls out over the next couple of weeks. Knowledge is derived from aggregated and anonymized user data that opt into Google Location History.
Google Maps introduced insights in February, such as how hot a route could be and when protection is usually onboard. These apps are now being rolled out internationally by the company. It also introduced more information - including the number of doors, seating, stop buttons, and wheelchair accessible.
Currently, these new Google Maps alerts are available in the United States, the United Kingdom, Thailand, Spain, the Netherlands, Mexico, India, France, Colombia, Brazil, Belgium, Australia, and Argentina. Google intends to expand into more areas worldwide.
According to the post, the information behind these warnings would be extracted from authoritative data from local, state, and federal governments or their websites. Google is actively collaborating with other agencies around the world to offer even more of this useful data to Google Maps users.
The company also adds features to help individuals traveling to test centers better understand logistics, including eligibility and facilities-specific guidelines. Test center alerts are currently only available in the United States. At the same time, general information on medical facilities is available in Indonesia, Israel, the Philippines, South Korea, and the U.S.
Google Maps began urging users since March to call their doctors if they had coronavirus symptoms before going to hospitals and other places.
This came during the worldwide explosion in COVID-19 events when some health facilities got overwhelmed. Google has also placed greater emphasis on the app's take-out and delivery of food options while many restaurants remain closed to dine-in clients.
In April, Google announced a joint effort to trace contact with Apple to curb the spread of Covid-19.