Apple Maps Crowd-Sourcing Data to Show COVID-19 Testing Sites
Coronavirus or COVID-19 is a pandemic that the world hadn’t seen in the past 100 years. Every country in the world is fighting to keep the spread to as minimum as possible. Everyone from the government to NGOs, international organizations, citizens, and big corporates doing their bit to contribute and help flatten the curve; technology is playing a huge role in this desperate time. Big tech companies and institutes are scrambling to provide their expertise to help various organizations, both governmental and non-governmental. We have seen companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, WhatsApp, Amazon taking various steps to provide accurate information to the users. We have also seen how Apple and Google joining hand to create a contact tracing app to map people who might have come across a Coronavirus positive patient.
To limit the spread of this virus, we need to test more people. The more, the better. Because how can we isolate people if we don’t know who is affected? The more people we test, the more we can isolate those with the virus and further limit the spread of the virus.
“We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test.”– WHO
To encourage and help people to get tested for the virus, Apple is working on a plan to add COVID-19 testing facilities on its Apple Maps. It is currently gathering information from a healthcare provider, lab, or other business, that Apple may show to its users on Apple Maps. It has launched a portal for the same. To submit a testing site, one needs to download the CSV file from the website and fill all necessary information before emailing it to the Apple team. Alternatively, the public may also share the Coronavirus testing location by tapping on the ‘i’ button and then ‘Add a missing place.’ A team at Apple will verify all the information submitted before making it public on its app.
It is unclear how long will it take for the testing sites to show up in the Apple Maps.
“We can’t provide an estimate right now. But we’re working to verify and add as many testing locations as we can, as quickly as possible.” Apple said on its website.
Apple wants to make sure that they add all kinds of information to the COVID-19 testing site listing. This is to ensure that the person with symptoms prepares all the necessary steps and that he/she doesn’t get rejected at the facility. To make this happen, Apple is gathering all sorts of information such as testing provider, category of testing site (virological, lab, hospital, or diagnostic center), testing hours, types of location (drive-through, parking lot, building, or converted lab), and if the facility requires an appointment and referral.
This information once available on the Apple Maps will help those with symptoms to find a testing location and getting tested. As I said, testing and isolating those found positive are the only way to beat this virus.
In the meantime, we can show our gratitude for those doctors, nurses, and everyone else who is working on the forefront by staying indoors. Stay home, stay safe, and practice proper hygiene.