With India under a 21-day lockdown to flatten the curve of the coronavirus spread, it has been reported time and again that one of the most affected sections of the population are the migrant workers. When the lockdown was imposed, India witnessed a large number of migrant workers heading towards their villages on foot in the absence of work. This has also lead to thousands of people being stranded in cities with no access to food or shelter. Google is aiming to help the situation by working with state and central governments to pinpoint night and food shelters across the country on Google Maps.
Google Maps is now actively showing the locations of food shelters and night shelters across 30 cities in India. The new feature is currently available only in English, but Google says that it will be made available in Hindi very soon. The locations can also be found by using Google Search or the Google Assistant, which means KaiOS-based feature phones like JioPhone are also capable of searching for these shelters. Users simply have to type “Food shelters in <City Name>” or “Night shelters in <City Name>” in Google Maps, Google Search or ask Google Assistant, to get the locations. The company has announced that in coming days, this feature will be made more accessible by being placed on quick-access shortcuts and showing food and night shelter pins when Maps is first opened.
Anal Ghosh, Sr. Program Manager, Google India, said, “As the COVID-19 situation develops, we are making a concerted effort to build solutions that help people during these times of need. Highlighting the locations of food and night shelters on Google Maps is a step to make this information easily available to the users in need, and ensure they can avail the food and shelter services being provided by the government authorities. With the help of volunteers, NGOs, and traffic authorities, we hope to convey this important information to the affected people, many of whom may not have access to a smartphone or mobile device during this time.”