Google Maps Adds On-Screen Speedometer And Enhanced SOS Alerts For Natural Disasters

Google Maps
Slowly but surely, Google is incorporating more of Waze's features into its home brewed Maps app. If you've used Google Maps recently, you may have noticed that it includes speed limit information, and will verbally alert you to speed limit cameras in your path. On top of those recent additions, Google is now expanding the SOS alerts in Maps.

The intent is to more reliably alert Google Maps users to where a disaster is, such as a wildfire, and to anticipate where it's headed. As it stands, SOS alerts already provide various crisis information to users, such as a summary of what's happening, related news stories, emergency phone numbers and websites, and even Twitter update from local authorities.

"Now, you’ll also be able to see detailed visualizations about hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods to give you a better understanding of the situation on the ground," Google says.

Google Maps Hurricane

These are not necessarily last minute alerts, either. For example, Google says that in the days leading up to a hurricane, a related crisis notification card will automatically appear on Google Maps when a user is near the area.

"This card will direct you to a hurricane forecast cone, which shows the prediction of the storm’s trajectory along with information about what time it’s likely to hit certain areas, so you can use this information to plan how to react," Google explains.

If a user happens to be near an earthquake when it hits, tapping on the crisis card will show its "shakemap," as shown in the image at the top of this article. This indicates the earthquake's epicenter and magnitude, and is color coded based on the severity.

This is all good stuff that makes Google Maps an overall better tool. Google says that hurricane cones and earthquake shakemaps will be rolling out in the coming weeks to Android, iOS, desktop, and the mobile web. Sometime after that, flood forecasts visualizations will be rolling out.