Given the reach of Google Search, it’s a key method for disseminating information during emergencies. Google today activated an SOS Alert for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus to quickly provide key news and other resources.

Searching for “coronavirus” or a related query will yield a white card noting the SOS Alert and ability to share directly. Earthquakes or fires often feature a bright red card. First up is a “Top Stories” carousel from major news publications, with relevant “Local Updates” from Twitter underneath.

Accounts include @WHO and the UN agency’s Director-General. Google is currently showing the same alerts globally, but will “localize if needed” over time.

Next is “Help and information” with links to World Health Organization articles about coronavirus advisory information, condition overview, and Q&A. The same source also provides inline “Safety tips” like washing your hands frequently, and covering your nose when sneezing or coughing.

The company will “update with further information as needed and relevant.” This Google SOS Alert hopes to make “resources about coronavirus easily accessible.” Available on the web and mobile apps, it’s also used during crisis events “where public safety might be at risk,” including natural and human-caused incidents.

Meanwhile, made a $250,000 direct grant to the Chinese Red Cross. A campaign for Googlers and the company’s philanthropic arm has raised over $800,000.

Internally, Google has moved to temporarily close five offices in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. There are travel restrictions on employees with recent visitors to the region asked to work from home for at least two weeks.

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About the Author

Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: