Google and Twitter are teaming up to improve disaster alerts

Google’s and Twitter’s relationship has been a bit rocky since the former launched a social network of its own, but, for the greater good, that’s changing. When a “more extreme” natural disaster strikes, Google Now, Search and Maps will populate with tweets related to the Public Alert event in an effort to add context, both on mobile and the desktop. On Google+, the search giant notes that these related tweets will serve to answer questions about school closings, nearby evacuations and to display what people closest to a storm are seeing. At the moment, this is only available for English-speaking countries, but Mountain View says it’s working to add new kinds of social content to more places and its other products for the future. 

Google announced Tuesday that its public disaster alerts in Google Now, Search and Maps will include relevant Tweets. When Google issues a public alert via one of its products, as a weather or other natural disaster-related PSA, it will now include tweets that help give people more context about what’s happening in their own areas. This also seems to represent a small, but perhaps significant, step in bringing Twitter data back into Google products. The announcement itself on Google+ was relatively minor. It simply noted where tweets may appear, and gave examples of the kinds of things they might be used for. “Starting today, you can find relevant data from Twitter on a subset of Google Public Alerts. We launched Public Alerts to provide updates from official sources, such as the National Weather Service, via Google Now, Search, and Google Maps. Now, some of the more extreme Public Alerts will include Tweets to help answer important questions: are schools closing? Are neighbors evacuating? What are people seeing on the front lines of a storm?”

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