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Using Technology to Serve Those Suffering in Beirut

Using Technology to Serve Those Suffering in Beirut

Monday, 10 August, 2020 - 11:45

Many of Beirut’s residents continue to suffer from last Tuesday’s explosion. In response, a group from Google volunteered to develop a comprehensive directory of all hotels, guesthouses, monasteries, and schools that are ready to receive displaced families. After double checking the provided information, the locations were posted on Google Maps so that anyone can access them.


Upon accessing this map, a list of shelters and their locations will appear. When users click on one of the shelters, details such as contact information and directions appear, along with pictures of some of the places. This map is named "Lebanon Crisis Shelters" . The interactive map can be accessed at bit.ly/30FV21P.


At the time of writing, the list included 40 shelters, hotels, homes, schools, monasteries, boarding houses, and non-governmental organizations. These places are distributed throughout Lebanon, with shelters in places including Baskinta, Baabda, Roumieh, Zahle, Baalak, Hammana, Ehden, Zouk Mosbeh, Kesrouan, Adama, Sin El Fil, Bashri, Al Arz, Mansouriya, Jezzine, Balat, Alita Jbeil, Freydis El Chouf, Al Mukhles, Al Salimah, Majdal Al Moouch, Kiffan, Al Mashmousha, Khenchara, Haret Al Balan, Deek Al Mahdi, Al Salahia and Ain Dara Al Barouk. The group will add more shelter and after validating the information presented about them.


Talking about the role of technology in crises, Google offers the "SOS Alerts" feature, which aims to provide easy and quick access to essential information in times of crisis. This feature gathers information from webpages, social networks, and Google applications. It highlights them in search results pages and maps. Additional information is provided from local or international authorities, according to the type of crisis. Emergency phone numbers, maps, official pages, translations, the places where users can make blood and in-kind donations, and other essential information is provided.


Google takes several aspects into consideration, such as the state of Internet connection in the affected area, the availability of instructions from governments and various authorities, and other factors. This information is usually provided in the predominant language of the affected area, along with English. The data is displayed to users on the map of the affected area. If the user is in an area far from the affected area, only relevant information will appear when searching for information related to the crisis. As an example, users who live far from the crisis will not see emergency phone numbers, but rather links to donate. To verify the information presented, Google assigns field teams to gather information from local authorities, eyewitnesses, trusted media, and non-governmental agencies.


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