Google Maps working on a COVID-19 map layer and tracking feature

There are so many new navigation obstacles to consider when getting from point A to point B. With that in mind, Google is working on a COVID-19 tracking feature, as shared by analyst Jane Manchun Wong on Twitter.

“Google Maps’ COVID-19 map shows a number of the region, describing whether it is increasing or decreasing”.

google maps covid-19
Image via Twitter: @wongmjane

New COVID-19 layer in Google Maps

The new feature would allow users to select a ‘COVID-19 overlay’. Jane shared screenshots showing data from the United States and some European countries; specifically how many new cases have been reported per 10 000 people.

We’re not sure if this feature will be rolled out in South Africa. However, it would be a useful way to get a sense for how present the infection still is in certain parts of the country; and whether new cases are on the increase.

Google Maps sources COVID-19-related information from the Johns Hopkins University, among other sources. The information is deployed in its new layer through Machine Learning and other complex algorithms.

google maps covid-19
“Google Maps’ COVID-19 map shows a number of the region, describing whether it is increasing or decreasing”. / Image via Twitter: @wongmjane

COVID-19 testing centres

In a previous update, Google Maps added a feature to help users avoid crowded places and find COVID-19 testing centres in selected countries. A global rollout was slated during 2020.

Google announced back in June that alerts about important COVID-19 travel-related information will show up in the apps. Google said it would “help prepare accordingly if government mandates impact transit services”.

“When you look up public transit directions for a trip that is likely to be affected by COVID-19 restrictions, we’ll show relevant alerts from local transit agencies”.

google maps covid-19
“Another look at Google Maps’ COVID-19 map, showing the data available outside of the US”. / Image via Twitter: @wongmjane

COVID-19 alerts

In addition, Google will also be rolling out driving alerts to notify commuters about COVID-19 checkpoints and restrictions along your route; when crossing borders, for example.

Google will also display an alert reminding you to verify eligibility and facility guidelines before heading out to a medical facility; “to avoid being turned away or causing additional strain on the local healthcare system”.

Medical facility-related alerts were rolled out in Indonesia, Israel, the Philippines, South Korea, and the US today. However, the service will be introduced in other countries in due course.

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