Google offers superstorm Public Alerts

Google is offering safety alerts and has launched a set of interactive maps tracking the progress of Hurricane Sandy as it slams into the US East Coast.

It’s placed Public Alerts on Google Search & Maps, on Google Maps for Android and also on Google Now for Android devices running Jellybean.

These provide warnings based on targeted searches such as ‘superstorm Sandy’, along with other information such as evacuation routes, crisis maps and shelter locations.

“We were planning on announcing the new features in a few days, but wanted to get them out as soon as possible so they can be helpful to people during this time,” says Nigel Snoad, product manager, Google Crisis Response.

“This is part of our continuing mission to bring emergency information to people when and where it is relevant. Public Alerts are primarily available in English for the US, but we are working with data providers across the world to expand their reach.”

The company’s collated its information from data provided by numerous sources, including the NOAA and USGS.

“Their commitment to open standards like the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) is what makes this all possible,” says Snoad. “We’ve also developed partnerships to bring you even more relevant alerts in the future, including local emergency data from Nixle.”

The storm also forced the company to cancel a major New York event – expected to mark the launch of a new Nexus phone and new version of Jelly Bean – because of the storm.