Google Unveils New Initiatives To Provide Accurate Information On Coronavirus
Google has created a number of new features to help people navigate the coronavirus pandemic, including a COVID-19 education website created in partnership with the U.S. government, promoting content about spread prevention and going extra lengths to remove YouTube videos disseminating disinformation about the virus.
In an update posted by Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai, the company highlighted the importance of providing people the “right information to stay healthy.”
“We’re partnering with the U.S. government in developing a website dedicated to COVID-19 education, prevention, and local resources nationwide,” the update read. “This includes best practices on prevention, links to authoritative information from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and helpful tips and tools from Google for individuals, teachers and businesses.”
Previously, President Donald Trump had claimed Google was developing a website that would screen Americans for the coronavirus.
“I want to thank Google,” Trump said on March 13. “Google is helping to develop a website. It’s going to be very quickly done, unlike websites of the past, to determine whether a test is warranted and to facilitate testing at a nearby convenient location.”
Verily, an independent subsidiary of Google Inc. had been working on creating a screening website for residents of the Bay Area, but Google has not issued any statements about developing a national screening site of their own, as Trump so indicated.
Google is promoting other measures to slow the spread, including posting a “Do the Five” notice on their homepage.
The “Do the Five” is a campaign to raise awareness about how to slow the spread of the virus, based on information from WHO. The recommendations listed are: wash your hands, cough into your elbow, don’t touch your face, stay more than three feet apart from others and stay home if you feel sick.
According to Google, millions of Americans saw the recommendations within the first 24 hours.
Google is also updating their maps feature to show whether a business/venue is temporarily closed and is collaborating with educators worldwide to provide teaching resources as schools shift to an online model.
“We’ve created new distance learning resources, including a collection of training materials, a new YouTube Learning Hub, and a series of blog posts and webinars,” the update reads. “We’re working with Google Educator Groups around the world, for example in Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan, to provide local content from teachers for teachers. In Italy, we’re helping schools quickly get set up with G Suite for Education and are working to provide additional technical support through partners.”
The nearly trillion-dollar company added that they plan to offer financial support to health organizations and small businesses impacted by the economic downturn.
“Through our philanthropic arm Google.org, we are committing $50 million to the global COVID-19 response, focusing on health and science, access to educational resources and small business support,” the company said.
So far, they have committed to matching up to $5 million in donations to WHO’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, which helps track and analyze the virus’s spread. They also provided a $500,000 grant to researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital to help them fund HeathMap, “a website that provides up-to-date trends of emerging public health threats and outbreaks.”
“In this unprecedented moment, we feel a great responsibility to help,” Google said. “We’ll keep doing everything we can to deliver on our mission, and help people take care of themselves and their communities.”
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