Google continues its support to Ukraine as its battle keeps on with Russia. After disabling Google Maps live traffic data in Ukraine, Google continues to offer various services and aid to help Ukraine and its government in their battle. One of Google’s latest project moves is enabling a rapid Air Raid Alerts system for Android phones in Ukraine.
“Tragically, millions of people in Ukraine now rely on air strike alerts to try to get to safety,” writes Kent Walker, Global Affairs President of Google, in Google’s The Keyword post. “At the request, and with the help, of the government of Ukraine, we’ve started rolling out a rapid Air Raid Alerts system for Android phones in Ukraine.”
Last Thursday, March 10, Walker announced that the air raid system is supplemental to Ukraine’s existing air raid alert systems, and based on alerts already being delivered by the Ukrainian government. The app called the Ukrainian Alarm, which was created by Ukrainian developers in cooperation with the Ukrainian government, is available at Play Store.
Dave Burke, Vice President of Engineering (Android) at Google, detailed in a series of tweets that the system leverages Google’s low latency alert mechanism that it built for earthquake alerts. Burke also noted that the system has already started rolling out and “will ramp up to target all Android phones in Ukraine over the next few days.”
On the other hand, Walker detailed some updates about Google’s other actions to help Ukraine in the same blog post. Some include the Threat Analysis Group’s effort to observe activity from a range of threat actors, new features for hotel owners with Business Profile to indicate whether they’re offering free or discounted accommodations for refugees, Google’s spaces and resources being used to support those affected by the war, and more.
Moreover, Walker mentioned that the company continuously limits recommendations for a number of Russian state-funded media outlets across its platform globally. In relation to this, Google also removed apps from Russian state-funded media beyond RT and Sputnik from Google Play. Likewise, it removed RT and Sputnik from its Search results in the European Union.
Lastly, Walker gave an update following the suspension of Google ads in Russia. According to him, the vast majority of the company’s commercial activities in Russia are also on pause now. This includes ads on Google’s properties and networks globally for all Russian-based advertisers, new Cloud sign-ups, the payments functionality for most of its services, and monetization features for YouTube viewers in Russia. Nonetheless, the company has decided to keep its free services like Search, Gmail, and YouTube running in the said country.