Tech

Google to start mapping Oxygen, Hospital Beds and surging COVID-19 cases in India

Google on Monday said it is testing a new feature in Maps application that enables people to ask about and share local information on the availability of beds and medical oxygen in select locations.

Google on Monday announced that it has rolled out new updates to Search in India to show people information related to COVID-19 vaccine and its registration.

The US-based company is also testing new features on Google Maps to help users in the country find critical resources such as hospital beds and medical oxygen using crowd-sourced information amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Google has also said that it has been helping non-profit organisations including GiveIndia, Charities Aid Foundation India, GOONJ, and United Way of Mumbai raise funds.

“We know that some of the most crucial information people are searching for is the availability of hospital beds and access to medical oxygen. To help them find answers more easily, we’re testing a new feature using the Q&A function in Maps that enables people to ask about and share local information on availability of beds and medical oxygen in select locations”, said Google.

As this will be user-generated content and not provided by authorised sources, it may be required to verify the accuracy and freshness of the information before utilizing it.

Search and Maps that have been showing 2,500 testing centers in India now similarly also show locations of over 23,000 vaccination centers across the country in English and eight Indian languages. The company said it is working with India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to source this information.

Google, which identifies India as its biggest market by users, said it is also testing a Q&A function in Google Maps in India to enable people to ask about and share local information on the availability of beds and medical oxygen in select locations in the country.

The new features rollout comes as India reports over 350,000 infections and over 3,500 fatalities everyday. The nation’s healthcare infrastructure is struggling to serve patients, having largely run out of beds and medical supplies. On May 1, India opened vaccination to those aged between 18 to 45, leaving people in scrambles as they struggled to register on the government website and secure the appointment for a vaccination dose.

Google added that it is also reminding people to stay safe and stay masked, and get authoritative information on vaccines via the Google Search homepage and reminders within its apps and services. It has also been running an internal donation campaign to raise funds for nonprofit organizations helping those most in need, including GiveIndia, Charities Aid Foundation India, GOONJ, and United Way of Mumbai. This campaign has raised over $4.6 million (Rs 33 crore) to date.

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