India Tells Citizens in Ukraine To Use Google Maps to Find Bomb Shelters

Meanwhile, Google Maps has temporarily disabled some tools which provide live traffic updates in Ukraine.

Tech News
2 min read
Edited By :Tejas Harad

In an advisory issued on 24 February, the Indian embassy in Kyiv advised Indian citizens in Ukraine, many of them students, to use Google Maps to find nearby bomb shelters.

"We are aware that certain places are hearing air sirens/bomb warning. In case you are faced with such a situation, google maps has a list of nearby bomb shelters, many of which are located in underground metros," it said.

Google on Sunday confirmed to Reuters that it has, for Ukraine, temporarily disabled some live-tracking tools for Google Maps which provide live information about traffic conditions and how busy different places, like restaurants and stores, are.

"While Mission is identifying possible solution to the situation, please be aware of your surroundings, be safe, do not leave your homes unless necessary and carry your documents with you at all times," the advisory added.


Tracking the Invasion on Google Maps

Jeffery Lewis, a professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in the US, and his team managed to track a Russian armoured unit moving toward the Ukraine border on Thursday morning, before reports of the invasion came in.

The team managed to accomplish this by putting together live traffic information from Google Maps and satellite images which showed armoured vehicle formations on the Russian side.

Lewis clarified that "the traffic data is most likely not from soldiers carrying smartphones. Instead, civilians are probably getting stuck at roadblocks and Google Maps is recording that."

“In the old days, we would have relied on a reporter to show us what was happening on the ground. And today, you can open Google Maps and see people fleeing Kyiv,” he told The Washington Post.

The live tracking feature, however, could also allow Russian forces to monitor civilian movement in Ukraine. Which is why Google subsequently disabled it.

The company reportedly said it had taken the action for the safety of local communities in the country, after consulting with sources including regional authorities.

Meta and Google have restricted Russia’s state-owned channels from earning ad revenue through their services. Twitter has also temporarily stopped its advertising and recommendation features in Russia and Ukraine.

(With inputs from The Washington Post and Reuters.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Edited By :Tejas Harad
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