A lot of people think that the distress signal is an abbreviation for “save our souls” or “save our ship.” But in reality, “save our souls” and “save our ship” are backronyms, and the letters don’t actually stand for anything.
Google has adopted the phrase as the name of a series of services it offers during natural disasters and is called SOS alerts
The tech giant GOOGLE introduced SOS Alerts, a new tool in Google Search and Maps that assists users with getting information during an emergency.
Google users will see an alert at the top of search results when looking for information about incidents, like wildfires, floods or earthquakes. The results will populate with maps, top stories and — if available — local details like emergency phone numbers and foreign language translations.
It’s possible to obtain this information even if you’re far away. But depending on proximity to the impacted place, users will get notifications pushed to mobile devices.On mobile Google Maps, you’ll see an icon on the map with a clickable card that reveals updates about the situation, like relevant phone numbers and websites. The map will also show road closures and traffic.
Latest was Hurricane IRMA when this service of Google was extensively used. This is not an official SOS signal, the Morse Code call that was the international standard for ships in distress, and isn’t a government directive. Instead, Google has adopted the phrase as the name of a series of services it offers during natural disasters.
According to CNN, when SOS alerts are activated, several things happen across all of Google’s products. When users search for the term in question, Google’s search engine provides official updates, contact information for emergency services, a map of the affected area, relevant news stories and a place for people to donate money. For those actually in the area of the SOS alert, Google provides notifications on users’ phones that direct them to the same information, per Tech Crunch
Google worked with a number of agencies, including the Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration and many others to source this information.
In Search, Google will shows an overview of the situation, maps, relevant news stories, emergency phone numbers (if available), websites and other relevant information. If you are close to an area where a disaster has struck, Google may also send you notifications that direct you to all of this information.