Here’s all you need to know about Google Maps’ new features to help people commute amid Covid-19

Hemani Seth Mumbai | Updated on June 09, 2020

As countries across the world are looking to gradually reopen, Google on Monday introduced a range of new features for Google Maps to help people commute during Covid-19.

“Covid-19 has made getting around more complicated. We're helping you get from A to B with new features that alert you to important information and allow you to safely avoid crowds on public transit,” the search giant tweeted from its Google Maps account.

“Because of Covid-19, it’s increasingly important to know how crowded a train station might be at a particular time or whether the bus is running on a limited schedule. Having this information before and during your trip is critical for both essential workers who need to safely navigate to work and will become more important for everyone as countries around the world begin to reopen.,” Google had said in an official blog post detailing the feature.

New Alerts

Google is rolling out various new alerts for its Maps platform to help people travel during the pandemic.

Google Maps will now provide transit alerts to commuters using public transit if their preferred mode of transport has been impacted by government mandates. It will also alert users if they are required to wear a mask on public transportation. Google is rolling out these alerts in India, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, France, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom and the US. It will introduce these alerts in more countries soon.

The navigation service is also introducing driving alerts for road transportation where it will notify users about Covid-19 checkpoints and restrictions along their route, like when crossing national borders. These alerts are initially being rolled out to users in Canada, Mexico and the US.

“When navigating to medical facilities or Covid-19 testing centres, 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,” Google said.

These alerts for testing centres will be available in Indonesia, Israel, the Philippines, South Korea, and the U.S., and testing centre alerts will be available in the US.

Avoid crowds on public transit systems

The tech giant has also introduced certain features to help people navigate public transport more safely. It is building upon its crowdedness predictions feature that it had introduced last year. The platform helps users see how crowded a particular bus or train is.

“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,” Google said.

It is also rolling out its new insights such as temperature, accessibility and security onboard, as well as designated women’s sections in regions where transit systems globally.

“To help wheelchair users around the world know before they go, we’ve added more granular accessibility information for people to find and contribute, including where there are wheelchair accessible doors, seating, stop buttons and more,” it explained. Users can also see when a particular transit system is busy to help plan their trips.

These features are available in Google Maps’ latest release on Android and iOS.

Published on June 09, 2020

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