With the social distancing norms adopted by people, digital payments have become more important than ever in this COVID-19 crisis to pay for groceries and other essentials. And to help people search for nearby stores providing essentials, Google has introduced a ‘Nearby Spot’ on Google Pay, which will let users know which local stores are currently open and providing groceries.
Google believes this information would help users contact the appropriate business, pay digitally and aid social distancing efforts. The Nearby Spot has been rolled out in first in Bengaluru and will be launching in Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai and Pune soon.
Other actions taken by Google India to fight COVID-19 pandemic
Google has launched the COVID-19 Spot on Google Pay that aggregates all the relevant information on the coronavirus, sourced directly from the MoHFW. You can also donate to PM-CARES or to NGOs such as SEEDS, Give India, United Way and Charities Aid Foundation, using Spot. Till now, donations to PM-CARES on Google Pay have thus far collected over ₹105 crores and continue to grow.
Live donations counter for PM-CARES (Left) and Nearby Spot (Right) on Google Pay
Google believes that it is crucial that people should have access to health information they can trust online, which will allow them make informed decisions to protect themselves, and those around them, from COVID-19. On Search, when a person launches a query for Coronavirus they will see a page with consolidated information including the top news stories, links to MoHFW resources, as well as authorised content on symptoms, prevention, treatments, etc. Additionally, if you search for hospitals, doctors or testing centres, Google now displays authoritative guidelines from the MoHFW on reaching out to central and state COVID-19 helplines, which help you take next steps.
(Left) On Search, queries for Coronavirus now display consolidated results, with tabs for quick access to information on symptoms, prevention, and more
This consolidated trustworthy information is not only available on Search but also across YouTube’s homepage, search, and recommendation systems. Streaming giant YouTube has also launched a Coronavirus News Shelf, which provides the latest news from authoritative media outlets regarding the outbreak. The news shelf is available on the YouTube home page.
The COVID-19 India website, which was launched last week collates all of the updated information, as well as live statistics, into a single, easy-to-access resource.
(Left) The India COVID-19 page, available in Hindi, English, and Marathi, and (Right) on KaiOS in Hindi and English via Google Assistant
The website is available in English, Hindi and Marathi for smartphones, and in English and Hindi via Google Assistant for KaiOS feature phones. The website would be soon available in several other Indian languages.
Google has also started indicating the locations of hundreds of food and night shelters set up by the government across the country, which can be accessed through Google Maps, Search, and Google Assistant. Till now, more than 33 cities with over 1,500 food and night shelters have been identified. You can put your query in both English and Hindi. Simply ask ‘ में भोजन केंद्र’ and ‘ में रैन बसेरा’, or ‘Food shelters in’ and ‘Night shelters in’.
(Left) Night Shelters and (Right) Night Food Shelters are now available on Google Maps, in English and Hindi