As concerns continue to grow over the spread of coronavirus, Google has now been spotted requesting that its My Business customers update their Maps listings with new information if they've been affected by COVID-19. The search giant made its request via Twitter, with a link back to an associated My Business help page. While the Tweet itself is fairly slim on expectations, the help page goes into a significant amount of detail.
Specifically, Google is asking business owners to note any business hours changes linked to the disease. The company also asks that businesses note in their description whether or not they've been affected by COVID-19.
That gives the business an opportunity to outline any precautions it's taken or is taking. Conversely, it provides an opportunity to explain other pertinent details such as delays or extra services it's offering as a result of coronavirus.
Finally, Google is asking business owners to use the "Posts" feature to keep customers up to date about that information and more. And it's reminding businesses to keep their phone number up to date. That way, any customer questions can be answered in a timely manner.
This Google Maps request stacks neatly atop other cautionary measures
Now, requesting business owners and My Business users to update their profiles in Search and Maps is not the first or biggest step Google has had in response to coronavirus. The company went so far as to cancel what is arguably its most important event of the year. That's the Google I/O 2020 developer conference typically held at its Mountain View California headquarters.
Rather than hosting thousands of people from around the world at its Shoreline Amphitheater, the company has effectively relegated the event to a live stream. That will still be aired around the same timeline, from May 12 through the 14. But stepping down the event has big implications anyway.
Typically, Google I/O is used not just to tout the latest moves in web and tech. It's an opportunity for attendees to network and interact with the upcoming advances in those areas.
Doing comparatively little
This response to the spread of coronavirus in Google Maps and Search shows how technology can be used to help people stay safer. However, it pales in comparison to how the affliction has been addressed with technology elsewhere. That's likely due to the fact that it has spread more quickly than anticipated. It's resulted in the deaths of thousands of people.
Fatalities have largely been relegated to those who are elderly or already impacted by other health conditions. But the response in China, where coronavirus first broke out, has seen technology used far more extensively. That's included not just robotic healthcare tech and food catering to keep doctors out of harms way and supplement for personnel shortages. The response has also included surveillance compiling both facial recognition and temperature monitoring.
If your business is affected by COVID-19, update your Google My Business profile to provide the most accurate information to your customers. Learn more: https://t.co/IUX8QXI71h.
— Google My Business (@GoogleMyBiz) March 9, 2020