Google Maps will be displaying Coronavirus vaccine locations in certain states of the United States, as America seeks to gear up its response to the ongoing pandemic.
Google announced the development in a blog post, in which it also detailed how it has expanded its information panels on its Search engine in more than 40 countries, to help people “find accurate and timely information on vaccines.”
But now Google Maps is also adding locations where people can obtain Coronavirus vaccines, starting with four states, namely Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
It comes after Google revealed that searches for “vaccines near me” have increased five fold since the beginning of the year.
“Searches for ‘vaccines near me’ have increased 5x since the beginning of the year and we want to make sure we’re providing locally relevant answers,” said Google in the blog post. “In the coming weeks, Covid-19 vaccination locations will be available in Google Search and Maps, starting with Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, with more states and countries to come.”
“We’ll include details like whether an appointment or referral is required, if access is limited to specific groups, or if it has a drive-through,” said Google. “We’re working with partners like VaccineFinder.org, an initiative of Boston Children’s Hospital, and other authoritative sources, such as government agencies and retail pharmacies, to gather vaccination location information and make it available.”
Google said it is also opening up Google facilities (starting in the US) to help authorities deliver vaccines to people. Google facilities to be made available include buildings, parking lots and open spaces.
“These sites will be open to anyone eligible for the vaccine based on state and local guidelines,” said the search engine. “We’ll start by partnering with health care provider One Medical and public health authorities to open sites in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area in California; Kirkland, Washington; and New York City, with plans to expand nationally.”
Google also said it is offering its tech to authorities to help in the vaccine distribution.
Google Cloud for example is helping healthcare organisations, retail pharmacies, logistics companies, and public sector institutions make use of technologies to speed up delivery of vaccines.
It cited logistics companies using Google’s AI to optimise trucking operations by adapting to traffic or inclement weather, and detect temperature fluctuations during transport.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has deeply affected every community all over the world,” said Google. “It’s also inspired coordination between public and private sectors, and across international borders, on a remarkable scale. We can’t slow down now. Getting vaccines to billions of people won’t be easy, but it’s one of the most important problems we’ll solve in our lifetimes. Google will continue to support in whatever way we can.”
Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai has also announced the firm is donating $100 million in ad grants to CDC Foundation, the World Health Organization and other nonprofits to run “critical public service health announcements” about the virus.