New Google Maps feature finds accommodation for health workers and offers greater accessibility information

The new system will highlight free and discounted rooms for health workers and will offer greater wheelchair accessibility information.

Google is working to make it easier for medical workers to find free and discounted hotel rooms during the coronavirus pandemic by introducing a new special feature on Maps.

Hotels across the country have been offering up rooms to NHS staff, not only out of kindness, but in a bid to reduce risks such as using public transport or, if infected, taking coronavirus home to a vulnerable member of their family.

The new feature created by the tech giant means that healthcare professionals, first responders and other essential workers will be able to use a new filter in Google Maps, as well as through the main Google search, to help them find available accommodation.

Google said it had been working with partners including Choice Hotels International, Hilton, and IHG Hotels & Resorts, as well as the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

Other hotels offering special rates out of kindness are being encouraged to add themselves via Google My Business.

While this feature will only be available in the UK and US first, Google hopes to roll it out in other countries “as soon as possible”.

The update also includes another option to offer great accessibility information.

‘Accessible Places’, will give greater wheelchair accessibility information to users.

With that new feature switched on, a wheelchair icon will appear to show places with an accessible entrance, and will display other details such as accessible seating, toilets and parking.

If it is confirmed that a place does not have an accessible entrance, that information will also be shown on Maps.

Accessible Places will be rolled out to the UK and US but also Australia and Japan, before other countries are added later.

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