Google India ramps up COVID-19 efforts

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As the country prepares for another two-week of lockdown, Google India has said it has ramped up actions to help bring authoritative and reliable information to people, and provide features across its products that can be helpful during these trying times.

The company said it has started indicating the locations of hundreds of food and night shelters set up by the government across the country, accessible through Google Maps, Search, and Google Assistant.

“To date, this includes more than 33 cities with over 1,500 food and night shelters identified. Users can query in both English and Hindi, and efforts are on to bring this to other Indian languages over the coming weeks, as well as adding additional shelters in more cities across the country,” Caesar Sengupta, Vice President, Payments and Next Billion Users at Google, said in a statement.

Google India said it has upped its work to curb misinformation across various platforms and prominently surface the latest updates and health advice from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and international health authorities

across Search, Maps, YouTube and the COVID-19 Spot on Google Pay.

“On Search, when a person launches a query for Coronavirus they will see a page with consolidated information including the top news stories, links to MoHFW resources, as well as access to authoritative content on symptoms, prevention, treatments and more,” added Sanjay Gupta, Vice President and Country Manager, Google India.

Google-owned YouTube has also launched a Coronavirus News Shelf on the YouTube Homepage, which provides the latest news from authoritative media outlets regarding the outbreak.

“In addition to elevating authoritative sources, we are also quickly removing reported videos that violate YouTube’s community guidelines, including those that discourage people from seeking medical treatment or encourage the use of unsubstantiated remedies to treat COVID-19,” said the company.

The COVID-19 India website that Google launched last week is available in English, Hindi and Marathi for smartphones, and in English and Hindi via Google Assistant for KaiOS feature phones.

It will be rolled out soon in several other Indian languages, said Sengupta.

“We have introduced Ads grants, Google Maps Platform Crisis Response credits and are offering our support for the APIs and SDKs that are most commonly used for crisis response implementations,” he added.

Google has launched the COVID-19 Spot on Google Pay that aggregates all pertinent information on the topic, sourced directly from the MoHFW.

“Donations to PM-CARES on Google Pay have thus far collected over ?105 crore and continue to grow,” said Gupta.

Additionally on Google Pay, Nearby Spot has been introduced to help users see local stores providing essentials like groceries, which are currently open.


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