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Google shows food, night shelters in 30 Indian cities


New Delhi: Google on Monday said it has started showing the locations of food shelters and night shelters in cities across India on its services like Maps, to help people especially migrant workers find relief centers with ease.

The tech giant said it is working closely with state and central government authorities to surface the locations of these relief centres.

"As the COVID-19 situation develops, we are making a concerted effort to build solutions that help people during these times of need," Anal Ghosh, Senior Programme Manager, Google India, said in a statement.

"Highlighting the locations of food and night shelters on Google Maps is a step to make this information easily available to the users in need, and ensure they can avail the food and shelter services being provided by the government authorities," Ghosh said.

People can now find these locations in 30 cities at the moment on Google Maps, Search and Google Assistant.

This will soon be available in Hindi, Google said, adding that the company is working towards making the facility available in other Indian languages over the coming weeks, as well as adding additional shelters in more cities across the country.

People can also enter the above queries into Google Search, or ask their Google Assistant on smartphones or on a KaiOS device.

In the coming days, it will become even easier to access this feature, with features like quick-access shortcuts that will appear beneath the search bar on the Google Maps app, shortcuts on Google Maps on KaiOS feature phones, and food and night shelter pins appearing on the map by default when the Maps app is first opened, Google said.

"With the help of volunteers, NGOs, and traffic authorities, we hope to convey this important information to the affected people, many of whom may not have access to a smartphone or mobile device during this time," informed Ghosh.

Google Maps is also offering user location data to help public health officials spot increase or decrease of movement across high-level categories of places — such as retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces and residential areas.

Health officials in India can go to the 'COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports' website, pick the country and download a PDF that charts the community movements.

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