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Google Thanks First Responders, Promotes, SOS Alerts, Public Alerts

Sun October 28 2018 7:01 pm
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Here’s to the firefighters, nurses, police officers, EMTs, and everyone else who answers the call in times of crisis. See more below.

Google posted a video on YouTube thanking first responders, showing disaster and rescue scenes. Google also promoted a new set of features in Google Search and Maps that activate during major natural, manmade, or humanitarian disasters. Google promoted the new features from a link on the search engine’s front page.

SOS Alerts in Search
For people using Search to learn more about a crisis, SOS Alerts connects them with news, maps, and whenever available, updates from local authorities, emergency resources, donation opportunities, and more—all organized in one place for easy access and sharing.

What are SOS Alerts?
SOS Alerts aim to make emergency information more accessible during a natural or human-caused crisis. We bring together relevant and authoritative content from the web, social media, and Google products, and then highlight that information on Google products such as Search and Maps. Depending on the nature of the crisis and your location, you’ll see updates from local, national, or international authorities. These updates could include emergency phone numbers and websites, maps, translations of useful phrases, donation opportunities, and more.

How does Google decide when to show an SOS Alert?
We look at a number of factors, such as internet connectivity in the affected area, the availability of official content from governments and other authoritative organizations, and the impact on the ground. SOS Alerts are typically available in the primary languages of the affected area, as well as English.

While we can’t guarantee that you’ll see an SOS Alert for every major crisis, we aim to make them available more broadly over time. Please tap the Feedback link on any SOS Alert if you have suggestions on how we can improve. We’d appreciate your input.

Where does Google get the content for SOS Alerts?
We have teams around the world who source content from government agencies, first responders, trusted media outlets, and NGOs. We also aggregate information from other Google products and services, such as Google News, Google Maps, Waze, and more.

How can I get an SOS Alert?
If you’re near a major crisis and you search for related words or phrases on Google, you may see a banner indicating that there’s an ongoing crisis, followed by emergency information and resources such as useful translations or phone numbers. If you’ve installed the latest version of the Google app (Android and iOS) and your location is turned on, you may also receive a notification on your mobile device’s home screen. Tap the notification to see the full alert on Google Search.

If you’re outside the crisis area, you won’t get a notification, but you can still find SOS Alerts by searching for information about the event. The information you get may be different from what people closer to the crisis area see. For example, instead of seeing emergency phone numbers, you may see a link to make a donation for that crisis.

If you’re using Google Maps, you can also see SOS Alerts right on the map if any alerts are active in the area you’re viewing. Tap on the icon to get more information about the crisis, such as helpful phone numbers and websites.

Why don’t I see any SOS Alerts?
If you don’t see an SOS Alert during a crisis, it may be due to one of these reasons:

Your search query may be too broad. Try searching for keywords that include both the type of disaster and the name of the affected area.

We may still be gathering and verifying information prior to launching an SOS Alert. Check back again for updates as the crisis evolves.

We may not have plans to launch an SOS Alert for this emergency. We aim to make SOS Alerts available for more crises. In the meantime, please visit the Google Crisis Response Twitter account ( to learn about other ways we support crisis response efforts, including grantmaking, volunteering, and satellite imagery collection.

Public Alerts
Complementing SOS Alerts, Google’s Public Alerts helps local and public authorities communicate emergency messages specifically related to official weather, public safety, and earthquake alerts. See for more information.




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