Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

Google introduces COVID-19 layer to Maps, revealing hotspot infection areas

You can now view state and city trends in coronavirus caseloads.

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Google has added a "COVID layer" to the Maps platform, granting users up-to-date information on infection trends across state and city. 

The update will begin to appear on Android and iOS over this week, worldwide. According to Sujoy Banerjee, Product Manager of Google Maps, users will be able to access the data layer through a new top right-hand corner tab called "COVID-19 info." 

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You will then see a seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people for the area you are looking at in Maps. Labels indicate whether or not caseloads are increasing or decreasing. 

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To make it easier for viewers to understand the data on show, Google has also included color coding:

  • Grey: Less than 1 case
  • Yellow: 1 - 10 cases
  • Orange: 10 - 20 cases
  • Dark orange: 20 - 30 cases
  • Red: 30 - 40 cases
  • Dark red: 40+ cases

Banerjee describes the tool as a means to "show critical information about COVID-19 cases in an area so you can make more informed decisions about where to go and what to do."

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The information is pulled from authorities on the spread of the novel coronavirus, including Johns Hopkins -- which has already provided a real-time dashboard -- the New York Times, JHU CSSE COVID-19 Data, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, and Wikipedia, all of which use public organizations as sources for case reports including government ministries, local health agencies, and the World Health Organization (WHO). 

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Google says that once the rollout is complete, case data will be visible for all 220 countries and territories supported in Google Maps. 

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State, province, county, and city-level data will be included where available, but as not every country or local authority reports new cases quickly -- or at all -- some areas may be colored grey and have no trend information on display.

In June, Google added new transit features to Maps including local alerts for trips likely to be impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, driving notifications for COVID-19 checkpoints, and the inclusion of medical centers for testing. 

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