With the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, Google has moved to help citizens of the invaded nation by sending air raid alerts to Android phones in Ukraine.
By working with the Ukrainian government, Google is rolling out the system with the idea of giving Ukrainians advanced notice of expected air attacks so they can get to safety.
“Tragically, millions of people in Ukraine now rely on air strike alerts to try to get to safety. 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,” Kent Walker, president of global affairs at Google explained (opens in new tab). “This work is supplemental to the country's existing air raid alert systems, and based on alerts already being delivered by the Ukrainian government.”
Dave Burke (opens in new tab), vice president of engineering for Android, noted that the air raid system has been adapted from the one Google created to push out earthquake alerts, adding that the system is being rolled out now and aims to target all Android phones in Ukraine.
The system leverages our low latency alert mechanism we built for earthquake alerts. The air raid system is supplemental to, and shares the same triggers used for, the country's existing air raid alert systems. 2/3March 10, 2022
This effort builds upon the effort Google has been making to flag the Ukrainian Air Alarm app currently able in the Google Play Store. That app serves up notifications of air raids to Ukrainians that have active alerts enabled on their phones.
All this is a healthy indication of how tech companies can respond to the Ukraine crisis. Granted, some may be wary of the data Google has access to, but in this case all that information is aiming to save lives in a terrible situation.
Google is also taking others actions to help Ukrainians, such as helping Ukrainian users of Google services to get access to information while monitoring for cyber attacks. The Google for Startups Campus in Warsaw is also being opened up for NGOs to provide legal and psychological support to refugees.
And the search giant is also taking direct action against Russia by pausing Google ads in the nation. “We’ve now paused the vast majority of our commercial activities in Russia – including ads on our properties and networks globally for all Russian-based advertisers, new Cloud sign ups, the payments functionality for most of our services, and monetization features for YouTube viewers in Russia,” said Walker.
Check out our roundup of ways you can help Ukraine by donating to a wide range of charities humanitarian aid efforts.