Google announced a new feature in Google Maps that will help people navigate safely amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Covid-19 trends are emerging as one of the biggest searches on Google with the rising number of coronavirus cases across the globe, technology giant Google on Wednesday has come up with a new feature for its Google Maps, which will navigate people safely amid this pandemic. Google Maps will now highlight coronavirus case counts around the world and how bad outbreaks are in each region.

Google has announced a new layer that will help people avoid traveling to areas with a high density of COVID-19 cases and in turn curb the spread. This new feature will be an add on to the facilities Google Maps provide as it already has a number of coronavirus-related features, including information about testing labs and centres, driving alerts about Covid-19 travel restrictions, and alerts about any potential impacts on public transit, including mask-wearing mandates.

How will the new feature work?

The new feature will offer information for every country that supports Google Maps. In order to make the information comprehensible, Google Maps will be color-coded to show the density of each area’s outbreaks, ranging from green (less than one case per 100,000 people) to dark red (more than 40 cases per 100,000 people).

The new feature will display the seven-day average for Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people for the map area that a viewer is looking at, as well as whether cases are trending upward or downward.

The new layer in Google Maps will pull information from “multiple authoritative sources,” including Johns Hopkins, the New York Times, and Wikipedia. This feature will be accessible on Android and iOS devices from this week. It can be used by tapping the “Layers” button and clicking “Covid-19 info.”

How Google Maps will COVID-19 trends collect data?

Data featured in the COVID layer will come from multiple authoritative sources, including Johns Hopkins, the New York Times, and Wikipedia as these sources collect data from public health organisations like the World Health Organisation, government health ministries, along with state and local health agencies and hospitals. 

According to Google, many of these sources already administer a lot of information and offer COVID case information in Search. The company is now only expanding its existing services to Google Maps. Trending COVID case data will visible at the country level for all 220 countries and territories that Google Maps support.

Why this initiative to show COVID-19 trends?

More than one billion people turn to Google Maps for essential information about how to get from place to place. But during this pandemic when safety concerns are on top, google thought to design a new feature that will help people navigate through COVID-19 checkpoints. Therefore, Google Maps is introducing the COVID layer in Maps, a tool that shows critical information about COVID-19 cases in an area so that people can make more informed decisions about where to go and what to do. 

To address the ongoing pandemic, Google joined hands with other tech giants to display more information about the Covid-19 pandemic and case counts through its search feature. In addition to the platform’s pandemic-related features, Covid-19 also forced Google Maps to change its models for predicting traffic and the best driving routes, as the pandemic and ensuing lockdown measures have significantly impacted traffic worldwide.

It can be noted that Apple and Google, earlier in the year released the Covid-19 exposure notification feature for both iOS and Android phones. The feature is already available in selected global regions but is yet to be made available in India. Until then, people at least in India can rely on Google Maps to make their travel plan and avoid venturing into Coronavirus outbreak zones.