Published: Sun, June 09, 2019
Tech | By Anita Cain

Google Maps could save your life with new tools for natural disasters

Google Maps could save your life with new tools for natural disasters

Google will soon deliver live updates with detailed visualizations about hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods in Google Maps.

The new speedometer feature in Maps is optional; users who want the little speedo widget while driving must first head to "Navigation settings" in the main settings screen and enable it from the "Driving options" section.

After an natural disaster strikes, tapping on the crisis card will display the earthquake's "shake map" - a visualization that shows you its epicenter, its magnitude, along with colour coding to indicate how intense the shaking was in surrounding areas.

Google has quietly added a live speedometer into Google Maps, allowing you to keep an eye on your speed alongside local speed limits. This is known as a "hurricane forecast cone"-just like the ones you see on television weather forecasts".

Hurricane crisis notification cards will show a forecast of the storm's trajectory along with times it's predicted to hit specific locations, hopefully giving those in danger time to get out of its path. Cards showing a color-coded shakemap will appear following earthquakes. This is a visualization that reveals the earthquake's epicenter and magnitude. You'll also be able to share your location and see road closures.

Hurricane and quake visualisations are coming to Maps on mobile apps and web in the coming weeks; flood forecasts will come to Android and web in India, starting soon in Patna then to the Ganges and Brahmaputra regions.

Hurricane forecast cones and natural disaster shakemaps will begin to roll out on iOS, Android, desktop and the mobile web around the world in the coming weeks.

Google appears to be on the cusp of a global rollout of the optional feature, with reports it is available for users in parts of South America, Europe, the US, Australia, India, and Taiwan. Since the feature is probably one of Google's gradual server-side changes, we can expect to see it in Google Maps sometime later this week. First they'll come to Patna, India, then they'll expand to the Ganges and Brahmaputra regions.

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