Over the past few weeks, wildfires have devastated both Northern and Southern California. Founded and headquartered in the state, Google is doing its part to help relief efforts with grants and employee donations totaling over $1.5 million, as well as helping communities regain connectivity.
In a blog post this evening, Google describes how it has been deploying resources “to help those affected in our own backyard.” As is standard, Google deployed SOS Alerts to provide local emergency advisories, maps, and other news to those in affected regions.
Users searching about the wildfires encountered this information, while Google also pushed out alerts via the Search app on Android. SOS Alerts also help people make donations, with 100% of proceeds going to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy that directs donations “to highly impactful organizations spearheading recovery efforts.”
To date, over 3,500 people have given money to support the victims of the fires through Google, making donations from five dollars, to as much as $500.
The company is also encouraging donations to various national and local organizations that are both aiding people and other recovery efforts.
Today, we want to invite others to donate as well, to the victims of the Camp Fireor to the victims of the Southern California fires. Anyone can also make donations directly to organizations like the American Red Cross, which is working shelter to those displaced, the Wildfire Relief Fund, which is supporting long-term recovery and preparedness, or the Latino Community Foundation as they support groups providing aid to families and farmworker communities in the affected areas.
We are mobilizing to support those impacted by the #CampFire, #HillFire and #WoolseyFire with SOS Alerts, and committing resources from @googleorg to aid those in need. Our thoughts are with all those displaced by these fires.
— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) November 9, 2018
Meanwhile Google realized at the onset how “getting online was a top concern” due to downed networks.
In collaboration with the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center(ITDRC), Google volunteers have been on the ground helping communities get back online, allowing many to reconnect with families and friends, file insurance claims, and—when possible—get back to school or work.
This includes setting up Wi-Fi hotspots and connected Chromebooks at shelters, distribution centers, churches and clinics. Google notes that it helped 1,000 evacuees get back online.
Besides connectivity, Google is also working to capture aerial and street-level imagery of the impacted areas in Southern California to augment existing digital maps. This helps emergency officials determine the impact of the fires.
Google.org donated $500,000 to the NorCal Disaster Relief Fund and the Southern California Disaster Relief Fund. In total, the philanthropy arm and Googlers contributed over $1.5 million. Meanwhile, Google Shopping also donated $100,000 to local food banks in the area through Feeding America.