Google adds COVID layer in Maps for safe travel

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In a bid to help people navigate safely in the pandemic times, Google has added a COVID layer in Maps that will show critical information about COVID-19 cases in an area people plan to visit. The feature will be available in 220 countries.

The COVID layer in Google Maps will start rolling out worldwide on Android and iOS this week.

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

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When you open Google Maps, tap on the layers button on the top right hand corner of the screen and click on “Covid-19 info”.

“You’ll then see a seven-day average of new COVID cases per 100,000 people for the area of the map you’re looking at, and a label that indicates whether the cases are trending up or down,” Sujoy Banerjee, Product Manager at Google Maps, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai also announced the arrival of the new feature in a tweet.

Colour coding will also help people easily distinguish the density of new cases in an area.

Trending case data is visible at the national level for all 220 countries and territories that Google Maps supports, along with state or province, county, and city-level data wherever available.

More than one billion people depend on Google Maps for essential information about navigating to places – especially during the pandemic when safety concerns are in the front of everyone’s minds.

“Features like popular times and live busyness, COVID-19 alerts in transit, and COVID checkpoints in driving navigation were all designed to help you stay safe when you’re out and about,” Banerjee said.


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