Google Maps improvements target COVID-19 frontline workers, wheelchair users

Google Maps
Google Maps (Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google has rolled out two new community-minded changes to Maps.
  • The first highlights businesses which make accommodations for wheelchair accessibility.
  • The second will make it easier for frontline workers to find hotels and lodging which offer special deals.

Google is rolling out two updates to Google Maps that reward more thoughtful business owners. The first is aimed at users with accessibility needs. As part of its Global Accessibility Awareness Day campaign, Google is adding an "Accessible Places" toggle so wheelchair accessibility information will become more prominent in the app. In essence, you'll be able to see if a place is accessible — and to what extent — at a glance. Google will also make it easier for Maps users and business owners to describe accessibility support from Google Maps and Google My Business. Accessible Places is coming to Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, with plans for more countries later down the line.

The second update aims to support COVID-19 workers. Google has added a new "COVID-19 responder rooms" filter to Maps, allowing essential workers to drill down their searches and find deals or offers aimed at them. It will also highlight — both on Google Maps and Google Travel — if hotels in an area have special policies for the above workers.

The company is working with partners like Choice Hotels International, Hilton, and IHG Hotels & Resorts, as well as the American Hotel & Lodging Association to find and list places that offer special policies for frontline workers amid the current pandemic.

Like with Accessible Places, business owners can use Google My Business to update their listings if they do offer special deals for frontline workers.

At the moment, Google is rolling this out in the U.S and UK, but it plans to expand this globally given time.

Michael Allison