Google Maps also rolled out COVID-19 checkpoints, transit alerts, and transit station busyness info available in June.
Google began rolling out a new feature Wednesday that allows app users to view relative COVID-19 case numbers as a layer in Google maps. The layer color codes areas by their 7-day average for the number of new cases per 100,000 people, and shows if cases are trending up or down.
The goal of the new feature is to help users “make more informed decisions about where to go and what to do,” wrote Sujoy Banerjee, a product manager at Google, in a blog post on Wednesday.
The move isn’t Google’s first effort to release features tailored to life amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In June, Google released a number of features, including transit alerts that ping users when government mandates impact service or if there’s a mask requirement on board. Google also introduced driving alerts that notify users about COVID-19 checkpoints when travelling. And for those looking to avoid crowded train cars, Google also made it easier to access live data on the business of stations.
Competitors like Bing and Apple have also worked on pandemic-oriented mapping tools. Bing runs a live COVID-19 tracker with global case data. And in April, both Google and competitor Apple added COVID-19 testing sites to their map platforms. Apple also began making aggregated mobility data available to help governments and health authorities make policies in April.
In addition to Google Maps’ country-level data in 220 countries and territories, there’s also state, county, and city level where data is available. Google sources the COVID-19 data from Johns Hopkins, the New York Times, and Wikipedia, according to Google’s statement.
The COVID layer begins rolling out to iOS and Android users this week. Users can activate the COVID-19 layer on their mobile device by opening Google maps on their phone, tapping the layer button, and selecting COVID-19 info.