Saturday, November 27, 2021

Google begins surfacing vaccine centers, hospital beds, oxygen info in India – TechCrunch

Google, which reaches more than half a billion people in India, is turning its services into tools to help the world’s second-largest internet market fight the pandemic.

Google said on Monday it has rolled out a range of updates to its Search, Maps, YouTube, and Google Pay services in India to display and boost authoritative and credible information about the coronavirus to help people in the South Asian nation find vaccination centers and other resources to navigate the crisis.

Google Search, which has been offering updates on the virus for more than a year, now also displays information panels with vaccine registration details in India and highlights the official Indian government website for the vaccine at the top.

Search and Maps showing 2,500 testing centers in India similarly also indicate locations of over 23,000 vaccination centers across the country in English and eight Indian languages. The company said it is working with India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to source this information.

Google, which identifies India as its biggest market by users, said it is also testing a Q&A function in Google Maps in India to enable people to ask about and share local information on the availability of beds and medical oxygen in select locations in the country.

The new features rollout comes as India reports over 350,000 infections and over 3,500 fatalities every day. The nation’s healthcare infrastructure is struggling to serve patients, primarily running out of beds and medical supplies. On May 1, India opened vaccination to those aged 18 to 45, leaving people in scrambles as they struggled to register on the government website and secure the appointment for a vaccination dose.

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