Google has been successfully able to demonstrate the effective use of real-time data in its apps. They have been adding new content and capabilities. In a recent blog post, Google has introduced a yet another capability in Google Maps which will be showing location-specific Covid-19 data.
In the past, google has been adding new and innovative data-centric mechanisms to its suite of apps. These have included features such as:
So, now Google Maps is adding an additional layer inside it which will use color-coding.
It is not hard to use. Simply speaking, you need to tap on the layers button (Typically showing up at the top right corner) and then click on the Covid-19 info.
What you will see next is the data of new cases per 100,000 people in the area – averaged over a seven day period for normalization purposes. This data is available for 220 countries and regions supported by Google Maps. It can even allow for drilling down to a particular region or city.
What is new?
Arguably, country and region-wide data on Covid-19 cases has already been available for a considerable time. However, what is new here is the integration of Google maps with the data. This opens up new avenues for conducting research, for health authorities to explore regions visually, or simply if you just want to be the smart-citizen by understanding how the spread is occurring. It adds on to existing google apps such as those helping to get around safely.
What is Missing?
While interesting, the data is just one aspect of the big picture. For one, the data presented seems to be instantaneous (i.e. non-temporal). In other words, we cannot explore trends and gradients by simply looking at the map. It also does not show recoveries, or information about local facilities such as hospitals. While there may be existing, localized apps for that, to my knowledge, there is no direct, public integration of any of these apps with Google maps.