Twitter has come to be one of the primary sources of information in the wake of natural disasters. Google is now putting aside its market rivalry with the social network, deciding to use relevant tweets to update its Public Alert events.
The Public Alerts feature from Google essentially adds information such as potential floods, disasters or any other major public safety event, to Google Maps. So if you are looking at your own location using Google Maps, you will be able to spot if any natural disasters are headed your way.
However, such alerts do not convey the full picture without the real-time frenzy of updates from Twitter. Which is why Google has now decided to include relevant tweets in its Public Alert events. The tweets will be able to help the visitors determine whether the schools in a given vicinity will be closed due to some event or what are the circumstances near the eye of a storm and similar other updates.
The motive behind integrating Twitter with the Public Alert events, as articulated by Google, is this, “Many people on the front lines of a disaster are sharing relevant information through social media. We want to help make this content easier to find, and available alongside information from official sources.”
From a user’s perspective, the added information from Twitter is a precious addition to the Public Alert events. But for now, this new feature is limited only to the English-speaking regions although Google promises that it will soon be bringing the feature to other languages and geographies, as well as adding content from other social media sources.
Does that mean Google may one day be adding updates from Facebook to the Alerts on Maps? That remains to be seen.