Google Maps To Point The Way To Vaccines And Public Health Communication

The increased need for at-home communication has resulted in unprecedented demand for communication and collaboration tools. In spite of the challenging circumstances, major tech companies like Google have worked tirelessly to provide both comfort and a semblance of normalcy to those weathering the worst of the pandemic.

The company’s Meet platform experienced a staggering 30x growth in usage by May of 2020, requiring extensive effort to scale operations to meet the need head-on. As the search engine market leader, it also placed critical public health information at the forefront of search results. Its efforts to educate and alert continue even now, in the form of a pledge to leverage their platform to improve worldwide vaccine distribution, along with plans to devote $150 million in grants to promote vaccine education and equitable access, recently announced by Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

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After seeing a fivefold increase in searches for “vaccines near me” since the beginning of the year, Google is also working to update its widely used Maps platform to provide increased awareness of COVID-19 vaccination sites. Beginning in Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, (with more states and countries in line after the initial rollout) the company plans to partner with government agencies, retail pharmacies, and other authoritative sources to gather location information about the availability of vaccines and make it readily accessible to those searching for it.

The company further plans to partner with organizations like Morehouse School of Medicine’s Satcher Health Leadership Institute and the CDC Foundation to help address the racial and geographic disparities that are leaving the most severely impacted portions of society without ready access to a vaccine. It is set to launch a “Get The Facts” initiative across its search site and YouTube to provide vetted, reliable information about vaccines to the public. It will also provide state and regional distribution information so its users can quickly and easily find out when they are eligible to be vaccinated.

By placing this crucial information in the hands of people searching for it, Google hopes to ensure greater access to important details that will speed the ongoing recovery effort. As efforts to quell the pandemic continue, companies like Google are proving that large tech corporations play an equally important role in spreading factual, helpful information to the public.