Finding out information about emergencies in your area just got easier. Google announced today its new Public Alerts feature, which incorporates real-time emergency information with Google Maps. The service allows users to search their area, and discover any potential impending doom.
“If a major weather event is headed for your area, you might go online to search for the information you need: What’s happening? Where and when will it strike? How severe will it be? What resources are available to help?,” writes Google on its Official blog. “The Google Crisis Response team works on providing critical emergency information during crises. Our goal is to surface emergency information through the online tools you use everyday, when that information is relevant and useful.”
The Public Alerts system includes “relevant weather, public safety and earthquake alerts” from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Weather Service, and the US Geological Survey (USGS).
A visit to the Public Alerts page automatically shows a list of current emergency warnings across the country, with corresponding points on the map. To find out if your area has any impending warnings, simply search your location, or a location where you plan to travel, and any ongoing emergency notifications will be displayed. If any alerts appear, simply click on the item on the left sidebar to see more details about the emergency situation.
If no notifications exist, the results will come up empty. Based on Google’s description, it appears that it works best if you know the type of emergency to look out for, like flooding or a blizzard.
Google stipulates that Public Alerts is, like most Google products, a work-in-progress. “We’re learning as we go and we’re working hard to continuously improve the range and relevance of the content you see, so we’d really like your feedback,” the company rights. To let Google know about any problems or suggestions, click on the link that appears on the bottom right corner of the Public Alerts page.