Google is integrating the location information about local food and night shelters on Google Maps. The initiative comes amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis where a set of the unprivileged populace is relying on private and government organisations for basic survival.
For now, the access to this info is via a search on Google Maps app, but it will also be available through quick-access shortcuts soon. For those who use feature phones and not Android, searching on KaiOS should also show up results.
To find the location of these shelters, one needs to open the Google Maps app and type ‘Food shelters in <city name>’ or ‘Night shelters in <city name>’. As of now, Google has added shelter locations for 30 cities and we expect it to be updated over time. A Hindi language search is also expected to be added soon. Our search for Surat city, Gujarat didn’t quite yield any results for food shelters, however, there were a handful of addresses for the night shelter query. Note that you can also use a simple Google search for shelters in your area or simply ask Google Assistant about it.
Since the lockdown has brought both public and private transport to a grinding halt, migrant workers and daily wage earners have had to contend with dire circumstances with regards to daily necessities. As has been in headlines, many migrants have even resorted to walking back their way home hundreds of miles because of no provisions for food and shelter.
It’s a great initiative to extend the services of the organisations doing the good work, but we’re still unclear how it will help the daily wage workers directly as very few of them know the proper use of this tech. However, it will be a useful database for authorities and it will help them guide the needy in a more organised way.