Google Teams Up With U.S. Government on Website Dedicated to the Coronavirus

Sister company Verify is helping to manage the testing process in California

More information is being added to Google’s Covid-19 SOS Alerts - Credit by Andrei Stanescu/iStock
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Google is teaming up with the U.S government to develop a website dedicated to education, prevention and local resources nationwide related to the coronavirus and Covid-19.

Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post that the site will include: best practices on prevention; links to authoritative information from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and tips for individuals, teachers and businesses.

He added that Google plans to roll out an initial version of the site late Monday (March 16), and it will be enhanced and updated on an ongoing basis.

Fellow Alphabet company Verify, which focuses on health and life sciences, is working with state, local and federal health authorities in California to set up testing sites in the San Francisco Bay area and to create an online tool to increase risk screening and testing for people at high risk from Covid-19.

Pichai said people in that state will be able to take an online screener survey via Verify’s Project Baseline and, in cases where testing is deemed necessary, they will be directed to mobile testing sites based on capacity.

He wrote, “While Verily is in the early stages of this pilot program, the plan is to expand to other locations over time.”

Another Alphabet company, DeepMind, released predictions that could help scientists better understand the coronavirus protein structure in order to develop future treatments.

Google is promoting its “Do the Five” campaign, which raises awareness of simple measures people can take to slow the spread of the coronavirus, on its homepage, and the WHO said those tips were seen by millions of people in the U.S. in the first 24 hours they were live.

More information is being added to Google’s Covid-19 SOS Alerts, including links to national health authority sites and maps of affected areas from the WHO.

When places such as schools and businesses are closed, Google Search and Google Maps will indicate that they are temporarily closed, and in the coming days, businesses will be able to mark themselves as temporarily closed via Google My Business.

The company is also using its Duplex artificial intelligence technology to contact businesses and confirm their updates hours, where possible, so that information can be reflected on Search and Maps.

A special webpage was created for Google Flights users to get information on which airlines are offering flexible cancellation policies and change fees.

This page is currently available in English, with more languages to be added soon.

Misinformation related to the coronavirus is being removed from all of Google’s platforms, including videos with dangerous or misleading information on YouTube, such as those promoting medically unproven methods to prevent the virus, as well as false and harmful content on Google Maps such as fake reviews and misleading information about healthcare locations.

Premium features on Google’s Meet videoconferencing application were made available to all G-Suite customers free-of-charge through July 1.

On the education front, Google created distance learning resources including training materials, a YouTube Learning Hub, blog posts and webinars, and the company is working with Google Educator Groups across the globe.

Google is committing $50 million to the global Covid-19 response through philanthropic arm Google.org, earmarked for health and science, access to educational resources and small business support.

The company will also match up to $5 million in donations to the WHO’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund, and it made a $500,000 grant to a team of researchers, epidemiologists and software developers at Boston Children’s Hospital working on HealthMap, a website that provides up-to-date trends on emerging public health threats and outbreaks.

Pichai said that in the coming weeks, Google will start up a Distance Learning Fund to help ensure that education continues across the world, along with support for small businesses, such as resources and access to capital.

And the company established a Covid-19 fund to enable temporary staff and vendors globally to take paid sick leave if they have potential symptoms of the coronavirus or are quarantined and can’t go to work.

Pichai wrote, “For 21 years, Google’s mission has been to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Helping people get the right information to stay healthy is more important than ever in the face of a global pandemic like Covid-19 … In this unprecedented moment, we feel a great responsibility to help. We’ll keep doing everything we can to deliver on our mission and help people take care of themselves and their communities.”


david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.
Publish date: March 16, 2020 https://dev.adweek.com/digital/google-teams-up-with-u-s-government-on-website-dedicated-to-the-coronavirus/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT