Google has activated its SOS Alert feature for Hurricane Harvey, and it has also donated to organizations handling the response efforts. The SOS Alert feature was launched by the search giant last month, and it is designed to provide all the necessary information about an incident at the top of search results. The alert for Hurricane Harvey incorporates the latest news about the disaster, Google’s Crisis Map, and tweets from local government officials, although users who are still in the affected areas may also see the latest reports regarding traffic and flooding conditions. Google is also providing a list of websites that people may go to, in order to get the latest weather and road conditions, while those who live outside of the disaster-stricken regions will see instructions on how to donate, specifically to organizations that conduct relief operations.
The SOS Alert also includes a Crisis Map, a feature that visualizes the current weather alerts in the area, road closures, and shelters for evacuees. Users also have the option to highlight evacuation routes, which lead evacuees to other major urban areas in Texas, like Dallas and San Antonio. The Crisis Map may also be used by media outlets for their own websites by simply using the iframe functionality, which can be accessed through the share button found on the map.
Aside from its SOS Alert, Google is also granting donations to organizations handling the relief efforts. Google.org, the philanthropic arm of the Mountain View-based search giant, and the company’s employees have donated a combined total of $500,000. Most of these funds will go to the response efforts of the American Red Cross, although portions of the grant will also proceed to organizations like Team Rubicon, Save the Children, and Habitat for Humanity. Meanwhile, Google’s MVNO, Project Fi, is also providing $20 worth of service credit to its subscribers residing in impacted areas. In a Reddit post, a community manager for the carrier stated that the credit could be used to look for resources and contact loved ones, and the subscribers who will receive the credit will be identified through ZIP codes, which they provided for billing purposes.