Kaylene Hong was Asia Reporter for The Next Web between 2013 and 2014, based in Singapore. She is bilingual in English and Mandarin. Stay in Kaylene Hong was Asia Reporter for The Next Web between 2013 and 2014, based in Singapore. She is bilingual in English and Mandarin. Stay in touch via Twitter or Google+.
Google has expanded its Public Alerts system to include Taiwan and launched a dedicated crisis map for the island in preparation for its typhoon season, even as the weather agency is currently monitoring a typhoon that is threatening to hit the island.
Taiwan’s typhoon season typically hits from late summer to mid-autumn. In a bulletin issued late Tuesday, Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau said storm Soulik could develop into a strong typhoon and if it maintained its current speed and direction, a sea warning could be issued Thursday, followed by a land warning.
Google said in a blog post that starting today, the Google Public Alerts page — which helps disseminate details of emergencies — will feature severe weather alerts for typhoons and flood-related events in Taiwan.
Such alerts will also appear on Google Search, Google Maps and Google Now. For example, if a typhoon alert is issued in Taiwan’s Kaohsiung county, the alert will be displayed once you search for relevant information on Google Search and Google Maps. Google Now on Android or iOS will also display a card with information about any typhoon alert if the warning has been issued near your location.
At the same time, Google has launched a dedicated Google Crisis Map for Taiwan providing details in the case of a crisis, such as shelter locations, evacuation routes and more.
Surprisingly, Google has worked with the Central Weather Bureau, Water Resource Agency, Soil and Water Conservation Bureau, Directorate General of Highways and the National Science and Technology Center for Disaster Reduction to get such a project up and running even before any crisis has hit. As a Google spokesman noted, governments still tend to keep disaster data in formats that cannot be used or have prohibitive licenses for any usage — and Taiwan’s government is a refreshing change from that.
In March this year, Google announced the first international expansion of its Public Alerts system after the service launched in Japan. The system was originally conceived in the US in January 2012.
Headline image via Thinkstock
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