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Sunday, April 11, 2021

COVID-19: Google Maps to now alert its users to avoid crowds when using public transit; here’s how!

Google Maps has always been a user-friendly app as it guides people about the duration, route and traffic details about their public and private transit. Now as the world is beginning to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, Google Maps has introduced a new feature for their users that will provide them with important information if they need to venture out, both by their own vehicles or public transportation. The feature, which will inform the users if the route they are taking is impacted by COVID-19 related restrictions or not, is is being rolled out in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, France, India, USA for now.

For instance, if a person looks up public transit directions for a trip, Google would show relevant alerts from local transit agencies that are likely to be affected by COVID-19 restrictions. “We’re also introducing driving alerts to notify you about COVID-19 checkpoints and restrictions along your route, like when crossing national borders (starting first in Canada, Mexico and the US). You’ll see an alert on the directions screen and after starting navigation if your route is impacted by these restrictions,” Ramesh Nagarajan, Product Management Director, Google Maps, wrote in a blog post late on Monday.

He further added, “When navigating to medical facilities or COVID-19 testing centers, we’ll display an alert reminding you to verify eligibility and facility guidelines to avoid being turned away or causing additional strain on the local healthcare system. Starting this week, alerts for medical facilities will be available in Indonesia, Israel, the Philippines, South Korea, and the US, and testing center alerts will be available in the US.”

The app, on Android and iOS, will also tell its users if the transit requires them to wear a mask as well. Not just that, users will also be notified about COVID-19 checkpoints and restrictions along the route. Additionally, Google has also announced new insights like temperature, accessibility and security onboard apart from designated women’s sections where transit systems allow.

For the unversed, it was last year that Google had launched the crowdedness predictions for public transit in Google Maps, revealing how crowded a particular bus line or train tends to be. “We’re now making it simpler for people to contribute crowdedness information for their transit lines. Look up Directions, tap through to see the Transit Details, then scroll down to find crowdedness predictions (where available) and easily contribute your own experiences,” Nagarajan signed off.

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