In declaring a national emergency due to COVID-19, President Donald Trump and other officials yesterday revealed that Google was building an online tool. After some confusion — partly due to the Alphabet corporate structure, Google today announced that it’s building a new “nationwide website” — but only to provide information about the coronavirus.
Google proper — instead of Verily — issued a statement on Saturday afternoon:
Yesterday, the company appeared to be blindsided by the President’s announcement, with the narrative quickly emerging that Verily — a seperate company focussed on life sciences under Alphabet — is building a site.
At that, the website Verily briefly detailed is only to “help triage individuals for Covid-19 testing” in the Bay Area by directing them to coronavirus testing facilities.
It’s not the more ambitious website described by US officials as offering a symptoms questionnaire and — when warranted — directing people to a “drive thru” clinic. The most significant capability would have been the ability to return the results of coronavirus testing after users log-in.
What Google announced today is also not the website described by Trump. However, it is explicitly “in addition to” what Verily is doing. This new effort will
It essentially sounds like an informational website; not the more complex screening website promised yesterday. That said, Google’s scale should help ensure the resources are widely discoverable and stay online in response to high traffic.
Google also took this afternoon to detail its other efforts:
- Alphabet’s DeepMind hopes to aid researchers with AI insight into COVID-19 virus structure
- Google Maps businesses encouraged to update listings if affected by coronavirus
- You can donate to support coronavirus relief efforts w/ Google Play Store
- Sundar Pichai details Google, Alphabet response to coronavirus and this ‘unprecedented moment’
- Play Store suggests apps to ‘stay informed’; about coronavirus as search still disabled.
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