July 25th, 2017
In times of crisis, access to timely, actionable information is crucial. Working alongside trained responders and volunteers on the ground, technology plays a vital role in providing information to help keep you and loved ones safe and informed. SOS alerts is a new set of features in Google Search and Maps to help you quickly understand what’s going on and decide what to do during a crisis.
How SOS Alerts Work
During a crisis, you may see an SOS Alert at the top of search results when searching for the incident or location. You’ll see maps, top stories and—when available—authoritative local information such as emergency phone numbers, websites, and translations of useful phrases. Depending on how close you are to the affected area, you may also get a notification on your mobile device that directs you to this information.
If you’re outside of the affected area, you may still want information about the crisis. Searches for relevant terms (like the name of the event or the location) will also show an SOS Alert that provides a timely overview of the situation, in addition to features such as donation opportunities.
Google Maps on mobile can also show SOS Alerts. In Maps, you’ll see a specific icon on the map and a tappable card with more information about the crisis, such as helpful phone numbers and websites. The map will also include real-time updates, like road closures and traffic and transit updates.
As we’ve developed our crisis response products, we’ve worked closely with organizations and government agencies that are on the front lines of relief efforts, including the Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration and many others. “Radio and television were once the only channels to quickly provide information in an emergency, but the internet and mobile phones have become increasingly important,” said Robert Glenn, Director at FEMA.
In addition to SOS Alerts and other crisis response features—including Google Person Finder, Google Crisis Map and Google Public Alerts—our philanthropic arm Google.org provides grants and volunteers for communities impacted by crises. We hope you never need to use crisis response features, but if you do, they’re designed to help keep you, and those you love, safe and informed.