16 April 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives, livelihoods, communities, and businesses across India. In times like these, it is more important than ever to help people get the right information to stay safe, informed and connected. Google has accelerated its work and has undertaken several actions to help bring authoritative and reliable information to people and provide features across its products that can be helpful during these trying times.
Here’s a quick highlight of some of the key initiatives taken by Google in India
Promoting authoritative and reliable information sources:
Google has upped the work to curb misinformation across various platforms and prominently surface the latest updates and health advice from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and international health authorities across Search, Maps, YouTube and the COVID-19 Spot on Google Pay.
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 access to authoritative content on symptoms, prevention, treatments and more.
Across YouTube’s homepage, search, and recommendation systems, Google is elevating authoritative information sources such as the MoHFW and WHO, driving users directly to these websites for trustworthy and reliable information. YouTube has also launched a Coronavirus News Shelf on the YouTube Homepage, which provides the latest news from authoritative media outlets regarding the outbreak. All searches and videos on YouTube related to COVID-19 trigger Information and health panels that provide additional information on the topic, linking to the MoHFW website and the global WHO website.
In addition to elevating authoritative sources, we are also quickly removing reported videos that violate YouTube’s community guidelines, including those that discourage people from seeking medical treatment or encourage the use of unsubstantiated remedies to treat COVID-19.
Bringing helpful features to Google’s product and services:
Google product teams continue to build features that enable people to find helpful resources such as instructions for preventing the spread of COVID-19, the latest statistics on the proliferation of the virus, and local helpline numbers.
The COVID-19 India website launched last week collates all of this updated information, as well as live statistics, into a single, easy-to-access resource. It is available in English, Hindi, and Marathi for smartphones, and in English and Hindi via Google Assistant for KaiOS feature phones. It will be rolled out soon in several other Indian languages.
Public service campaign:
In order to ensure that the safety and prevention best practices are disseminated widely, Google has collaborated with the MoHFW to run a public service campaign titled ‘Do the Five’, and prominently surface and promote assets from MoHFW which includes educational video content featuring Amitabh Bachchan, across YouTube, Search and Google Assistant. The campaign has reached hundreds of millions of people seeking this information and continues to reach millions more every day.
Building solutions for crisis response
Google started indicating the locations of hundreds of food and night shelters set up by the government across the country, accessible through Google Maps, Search, and Google Assistant. To date, this includes more than 33 cities with over 1,500 food and night shelters identified. Users can query in both English and Hindi, and efforts are on to bring this to other Indian languages over the coming weeks, as well as adding additional shelters in more cities across the country.
The information can also be accessed via Google Assistant on KaiOS in both Hindi and English. Simply ask ‘Food shelters in ‘ and ‘Night shelters in’.
Contributing to crisis response and upholding our responsibility
With the lockdown and social distancing norms in place, digital payments have become more important than ever and Google Pay is an additional surface to provide key information regarding COVID-19.
Google has introduced the COVID-19 Spot on Google Pay that aggregates all pertinent information on the topic, sourced directly from the MoHFW. The Spot also helps users donate to PM-CARES or to NGOs such as SEEDS, Give India, United Way and Charities Aid Foundation, which are working towards the procurement of protective equipment for medical workers and relief for lockdown-impacted daily wagers. Donations to PM-CARES on Google Pay have thus far collected over ?105 crores and continue to grow.