Over the past couple of years, software and technology have become considerably more aware of the user. This extends from using biometrics to unlock your phone, to having your vitals regularly checked by a smartwatch on your wrist, to getting pestered by a digital well-being assistant. Health monitoring as a whole has proven to be potentially life-saving many times on an individual scale. But what about large groups of people, possibly the populations of entire cities, who may be at risk?
Google Maps already provides relevant information during times of crisis with SOS alerts. These include real-time updates on the situation, a map of the affected area, emergency contact information, and translations for common phrases in the local language. With the latest update to Maps, SOS alerts are expanding with more detailed visuals and a new crisis navigation system will try its best to get you—and potentially hundreds, if not thousands of others—out of harm's way.
For example, in the case of a hurricane, you'll automatically get a crisis notification card on Google Maps in the days leading to the expected disaster. The map will also display the predicted trajectory of the storm, alongside times when the hurricane is expected to hit certain areas in your vicinity. If you happen to be driving through an affected region on the day of the storm, you'll get a suggestion for a safer route alternative. Such suggestions will be offered for all types of disasters while driving, starting later this summer.
Earthquake, flood, and hurricane maps
In the case of an earthquake, the crisis notification card will display a shakemap, which is a visualization of the earthquake's epicenter, magnitude, and how surrounding areas were affected. Flood forecasts will notify you of possible floods, as well as where they are likely to occur, and where the waters are expected to flow. Google says this is especially important in regions like India, where over 20 percent of global flood-related fatalities occur.
The revamped SOS alerts system will start rolling out to Android, iOS, and the web version of Google Maps in the coming weeks. Flood visualizations will first launch in Patna, India, and will spread to neighboring regions, and eventually globally, though curiously they won't be coming to iOS, at least initially.