Google is today announcing the launch of its ‘Flood alerts’ feature in India, which will warn Indians of upcoming floods and river overflows for more than 170 areas, in which the Central Water Commission (CWC) has active observation stations.
These alerts are now available on Web search, Google Now cards in the Google app, Google Maps, and on the Google Public Alerts homepage, and can be accessed on desktop and mobile devices. The alerts will be created and shared using data provided by the CWC.
In 2015, Google introduced a similar, ‘cyclone alerts’ feature to show information about cyclone’s in India. Clicking on the alert help users find information with details about the hazard, including a map and expected timeline, as well as tips on how to stay safe.
Through Public Alerts, Google shares relevant weather updates, public safety and earthquake alerts to ensure that people have timely information required to make informed decisions in times of crisis. Users can browse all active alerts at google.org/publicalerts, and relevant alerts will also appear on normal Google Maps searches depending on the query. Clicking through an alert on the map displays more info from the organization sending the alert.
While the search giant does offer public alerts for a lot of other natural disasters, flood alerts are perhaps the most crucial ones in the subcontinent. There aren’t as advanced safety checks in place as in the west, to save loss of thousands of lives, lost due to overflowing rivers, excessive water discharge from dams among other flood factors.
Also, statistically, among all the natural disasters that occur in India, floods are the most common. Chronic floods during the monsoon season on an average affect more than 30 million Indians annually. According to the Central Water Commission (CWC), on an average 7.21 million hectares (roughly 72,000 sq km) go under floodwater annually.
This water typically ravages 3.78 million hectares of agricultural land, damaging crops worth Rs.1,118 crore annually. Heavy rains and floods also account for nearly 1,700 lives lost annually. Apart from this, 1.25 lakh houses are annually damaged by torrential rains that also wipe out nearly 96,000 livestock. Ironically, 60% of India’s farmland, 66% of its livestock and its entire forest area depend on rains for survival.