Google Public Alerts is nothing new. Google.org has been working on the Public Alerts program for quite some time through this dedicated public alerts map that aggregated data from the USGS and NWS. Over time Google began to incorporate this data into the results for Google searches so that searching for “Tornado” within an area covered by a Tornado Watch or Tornado Warning would provide a link to that warning. This was one step closer to bringing alert information into the main stream.
Google has recently taken another major step with their Public Alerts project by making Public Alerts part of the Google Now application that is included within Android 4.1 and 4.2. With this functionality any phone that supports Google Now can receive notification of Public Alerts in their area. In reality, much like the concept of many commercial applications, this provides a Location Based Service for public warning. The great part is that all is required of an alerting authority is to publish alerts in an acceptable format that contains geospatial information (ideally using the Common Alerting Protocol) and then working with Google.org to allow them to fetch this data. If you didn’t catch the big point here, there is no cost to the agency (or taxpayer).
Here is a little taste of Google Public Alerts
In a follow-up to this post we will look at Google’s Crisis Map.