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Google Maps Testing New Feature to Help Users Find Hospital Beds, Medical Oxygen

Google India has announced that Google Maps is testing a new feature that will help users share information on medical oxygen and available hospital beds directly via the app. The software giant explains that the feature will be available in the form of Q&A that would enable “people to ask about and share local information on the availability of beds and medical oxygen in select locations.” Google adds that end-users may be required to verify the accuracy and freshness of the information before utilising it, as this will be user-generated content and not provided by authorised sources. The exact availability details of the Q&A feature remains unclear at the moment. Google also shared updates related to its own developed tools to tackle COVID-19 misinformation and find other resources. For instance, Google Maps already allows users to find COVID vaccine and testing centres in a particular location, both in English and eight local languages.

Earlier in November, Google Maps also added the COVID-19 Info panel that shows critical information about COVID-19 cases in an area so users can make more informed decisions about where to go and what to do. In the new blog post, Google reiterates features like the YouTube India Spotlight channel that contains crucial videos from experts on COVID-19. It also highlights the ‘find vaccine and testing centre’ upgrade via Google Search and Assistant. In the late April this year, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai had pledged Rs 135 crore funding for medical supplies and to help communities in general.

Google has also added an internal donation campaign to raise funds for non-profit organisations. For instance, Google Pay users can easily donate to NGOs GiveIndia, Charities Aid Foundation, Goonj, Save the Children, Seeds, and UNICEF India. The company adds that would keep rolling out new features to tackle the COVID-19 surge in India. Several app developers have rolled out third-party platforms (based on CoWIN API) to let Indian users find COVID-19 vaccine centres with available booking slots around them.

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