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Google launches SOS Alert for coronavirus searches

Posted on February 4, 2020

 

Search giant Google has recently launched SOS Alerts for all searches related the coronavirus outbreak.

Google introduced SOS Alerts back in 2017, and these are activated by the company during global crisis events where the safety of the public may be at risk. These alerts are designed to help searchers to get the correct information they may need about the crisis. They work by providing a page of ad-free search results that contain all of the latest news and links to any authoritative and reputable sources, as well as offering any safety tips.

The announcement was made through the Google Communications Twitter account on Thursday evening.

The coronavirus outbreak first occurred in December, originating from the Chinese city of Wuhan. The disease has now spread to many countries over the globe, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) declaring it a public health emergency of international concern.

When a Google search is conducted relating to the coronavirus, it will display the topic at the top of the results page with the label ‘SOS Alert’. This will then be followed by the latest news about the topic, relevant social media updates from Twitter, followed by a Help and Information box containing data predominantly from the WHO, and a Safety tips box. This is then followed by the top searches for the term, with the top three results being the WHO website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, and the NHS website.

In its Help Document about SOS Alerts, Google explains that it has a number of teams spread across the world sourcing content from government agencies, trusted media sources, and first responders to ensure that the information provided in these alerts is correct and accurate. It also takes into account information that appears in other Google services, such as Google News, Waze and Maps.

At present, Google is showing the same alerts across the world for the coronavirus outbreak, however, this may become more localised over time if this is required. Google has also donated $250,000 (around £190,000) to the Chinese Red Cross to support relief efforts.

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