Google is bringing some major new features to its Maps app on iOS, Android, and the web. The new features focus on natural disaster and how they affect navigation when they strike. Three types of natural disasters are covered in the new SOS updates to Google Maps: hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods. Here’s how those new features break down:
- Hurricanes: In the days leading up to a hurricane, Google Maps will now show you a visualization of the hurricane in the maps app. This is known as a “hurricane forecast cone”–just like the ones you see on television weather forecasts. This cone will show the predicted trajectory of the hurricane along with information about what date and times it is predicted to hit local areas.
- Earthquakes: After an earthquake strikes, Google Maps will show you the earthquake’s shakemap. This is a visualization that reveals the earthquake’s epicenter and magnitude. You’ll also see color coding that indicates how intense the shaking was in surrounding areas.
- Floods: Google Maps will now display flood forecasts so you can see where flooding is likely to occur and preview its expected severity. Unlike the new hurricane and earthquake features, Google Maps’ new floods features are only rolling out in parts of India, where 20% of the world’s flooding occurs.
In addition to the new natural disaster visualizations in maps, users will also be able to take advantage of crisis navigation warnings and reroutings, meaning Google Maps will provide navigation routes that best keep you away from disaster-hit areas. You’ll also be able to share your location with loved ones during a crisis and report road closures due to the natural disasters.
Hurricane forecast cones and earthquake shakemaps will roll out to users in the next few weeks on Android, iOS, desktop, and mobile web. Flood forecasts visualizations will also roll out during that time frame, but only in Patna, India, to start and then expanding to the Ganges and Brahmaputra regions of the country.