In a bid to help people stranded away from home due to the nationwide lockdown, tech major Google has now started to list locations of shelters where such individuals can get food and can spend the night on Goggle Maps. The service, launched in partnership with central and state government authorities, will help migrant workers and other such workers who have been left stranded outside their home cities.
Senior programme manager of Google India Anal Ghosh said that as the Covid-19 situation gets more serious, the company is making a concerted effort to build solutions that help people who need help the most. Ghosh also noted that the locations of food and night shelters on Google Maps will make the information easily available to everyone in need. “This service will ensure they can avail the food and shelter services being provided by the government authorities,” he added.
As of now, Google Maps has added locations of shelter and food homes in 30 cities in India. Individuals can also use Google Assistant to find these shelters. While the Google Assistant feature only supports the English language right now, the company said that this new feature will be available soon in Hindi as well.
Google is also planning to help people find these shelters in other Indian languages in the coming weeks. The company is looking to list more shelter houses from other cities which can also be found on Google search.
The tech giant is also working to improve accessibility as most migrant workers are not very tech-savvy. It will add features like quick-access shortcuts within Google Maps, even on KaiOS feature phones. Further, food and night shelter pins will also appear on the map by default when the Google Maps app is first opened.
Ghosh said Google is also working with volunteers, NGOs, and traffic authorities to spread the information to affected people. “Many of these people don’t have access to a smartphone or mobile device and these organisations can help them to get to shelter homes,” he added.
Besides this, Google Maps is also providing real-time traffic information to government authorities in places like retail shops, pharmacies, parks, public transport, workplaces, and residential areas.
Additionally, the company has committed over $800 Mn to address some of the challenges faced by businesses in these times. Out of the total corpus, $200 Mn will be provided to support NGOs and financial institutions while it is offering $340 Mn as Google Ads credits to SMBs which have an active account over the past year.