The world — post the lockdowns and containment zones — may not be as reliant on Google Maps as it was at the start of the year but that hasn’t stopped the tech giant from rolling out new features. Google has rolled out a new feature which could be one of the most relevant and crucial features of recent times. According to a blog post by Google, Maps will now have a COVID layer, “a tool that shows critical information about COVID-19 cases in an area so you can make more informed decisions about where to go and what to do.” The new feature will be made available on Android and iOS starting this week, said Google.
To use the feature in Maps, users have to tap on the layers button that will be on the right hand corner of their screens. Here they will see a COVID-19 info tab which needs to be tapped. Users will be able to 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,” as per the blog post.
Google has also added colour codes that will help in distinguishing the density of new COVID-19 cases in any particular area. Google has said that the trending case data will be visible at country level for all 220 countries that Google Maps supports. Apart from this, state-wise or city-level data will appear wherever it is available.
Google will source data for the COVID layer from multiple sources including Johns Hopkins, The New York Times and Wikipedia. “These sources get data from public health organisations like the World Health Organisation, government health ministries, along with state and local health agencies and hospitals,” explained Google in the blog post. Google has been relying on COVID-related data from these sources for its Search for a while now.