Google unveils SOS Alerts to help during a crisis

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Google logo (Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images)

By Kaya Yurieff

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Google wants to help in a crisis.

The tech giant on Tuesday introduced SOS Alerts, a set of new tools in Google Search and Maps to assist users get information during an emergency.

Google users will see an alert at the top of search results when looking for information about incidents, like wildfires, floods or earthquakes. The results will populate with maps, top stories and — if available — local details like emergency phone numbers and foreign language translations.

It’s possible to obtain this information even if you’re far away. But depending on proximity to the impacted place, users will get notifications pushed to mobile devices.

On mobile Google Maps, you’ll see an icon on the map with a clickable card that reveals updates about the situation, like relevant phone numbers and websites. The map will also show road closures and traffic.

If you’re accessing Search or Maps from another location, it’ll populate with an option to make a donation.

This is the latest crisis response tools from Google, joining features like Google Person Finder, Google Crisis Map and Google Public Alerts.

Facebook also has features for helping people during natural disasters or emergencies. For example, Safety Check allows users to quickly notify friends and family that they’re safe in a crisis situation.

Meanwhile, Twitter users can sign up to receive alerts and text messages from specific organizations, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), during an emergency.


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