Google Maps, Search and Assistant to now show locations of COVID-19 food, night shelters in India

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |

Updated: April 6, 2020 5:01:21 pm

Google Maps will now show locations of food shelters and night shelters across India. (Image source: Google)

Google Maps is expanding to show locations of COVID-19 food and night shelters across India. Earlier, Google Maps was showing locations for food shelters in Delhi, but it has now expanded this to 30 other cities in India. The coronavirus lockdown for 21 days has resulted in a massive migrant crisis in the country with millions of daily wage labourers finding themselves out of work and with no access to food. The humanitarian crisis has seen many state governments announce food shelters and night shelters as they try and offer relief to these migrant workers.

“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,” Anal Ghosh, Sr. Program Manager, Google India said in a press statement.

Where will Google show locations for food and night shelters?

Shelters in 30 cities will be highlighted on Google Maps, Google Search and Google Assistant. Users can simply search for Food Shelters or Night Shelters on these Google products.

Also read: COVID-19 trackers: These live trackers have all the latest coronavirus India updates

Users can enter these queries into Google Search or on the Google Assistant present on smartphones or on a KaiOS device. KaiOS powers several smart/feature phones such as the JioPhone 1, 2, and some Nokia devices, which are feature phones. For many migrant labourers they might not posses a smartphone, but could have a JioPhone, so the ability to search for such queriers on these feature phones will also be useful.

Read more: How to use Google Maps to locate nearest hunger relief centres in Delhi

What all languages will be supported?

Currently, the results are reflecting in English. The company says it plans to make the feature available in Hindi soon. So a user will be able to type out their query in Hindi by typing: ‘में भोजन केंद्र’ or ‘में रैन बसेरा’, and it will also show them relevant results.

Google plans to bring this feature to other Indian languages over the coming weeks, and will add shelters in more cities across the country.

What else does Google plan to do with this? How will it help migrant labourers?

It will also add features like quick-access shortcuts that will appear beneath the search bar on the Google Maps app, shortcuts on Google Maps on KaiOS feature phones. Also food and night shelter pins will soon after appearing by default on the map when it is first opened. The locations will certainly help NGOs and other volunteers who wish to donate food, other items to help with the migrant labour crisis. Even if those who need it might not be able to directly search for these results, due to tech constraints, it gives others an opportunity to go out and help, given the crisis is likely to continue for a few months.

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