Public Alerts on Google Maps

Google's public alerts system can save your bacon by keeping you up to date with important safety information

Michael wrote in about something he noticed in Google Maps for Android. Seems there is a Flash Flood Warning for parts of New Hampshire, and Google Maps made sure he knew about it when searching for a location. It's not only pretty cool and pretty important, but it serves as a reminder that your Android phone can provide safety information as well as play Words With Friends.

Google started adding public alerts to Google Maps in January of 2012, but most of us have never seen them. Besides severe weather alerts from the US National Weather service, maps also has the ability to give safety warnings from the following:

  • US Geological Survey (USGS)
  • West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center
  • AMBER alerts from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
  • Nixle
  • Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA)
  • Environment Canada

These are all trusted partners and verified public safety authorities. The alerts you can see will depend not only on what alerts may be active, but also their severity, location settings and of course your location or the location you're searching. The goal here is to provide relevant safety information tailored to your needs and location. This is a really good thing.

To see all the live alerts, you can visit the Google Public Alerts homepage. While the service has been around a while, it's still fairly new so not every location has pertinent local information. If your hometown doesn't seem to be listing anything, and you're in a position to influence policy decisions (or know someone who is), direct your attention here. Google has set up steps to make it easy to publish the data in a web-friendly format so that they, and others, can use the data to keep people warned.

Thanks, Michael for this great reminder!