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On Earth Day, we not only think about climate change and natural disasters affecting our world but also recognize technologies that assist in keeping us safe when they occur.

An example of such technology is Google’s environmental crisis notifications.

Each year, countless people experience the devastating effects of natural disasters like floods, wildfires, and earthquakes, leading to the loss of lives and property.

To address this worldwide issue, Google has created environmental crisis notifications, offering quick and precise details to those in affected regions.

These notifications can be found via Google Search and Maps, helping individuals and communities take the needed precautions and make educated choices in times of crisis.

In this article, we look into Google’s environmental crisis notifications, such as flood predictions, mapping wildfires, and detecting earthquakes, and how these innovations help create safer and stronger communities.

Overview Of Google’s Environmental SOS Alerts

Google’s SOS alerts provide people with quick access to authoritative information during emergencies, including summaries of what is happening, relevant news stories, emergency phone numbers, and websites.

Over the years, the SOS alerts have been enhanced to include visual information about natural disasters.

A new navigation warning system on Google Maps also allows people to anticipate and understand the disaster’s trajectory.

For example, in the days leading up to a hurricane, people near the impacted area will see a crisis notification card on Google Maps that directs them to a hurricane forecast cone.

The notification shows the predicted trajectory of the storm and the timing of its impact on specific areas.

Similarly, the crisis card will display an earthquake shakemap after an earthquake.

A shakemap shows a visualization of the earthquake’s epicenter, magnitude, and intensity of shaking in surrounding areas, helping users assess the reach and impact of the earthquake.

People in India, where over 20 percent of global flood-related fatalities occur, can access flood forecasts that show the likelihood and severity of flooding in different areas.

Google has alerts for the following types of environmental crises:





Extreme Heat

Here’s more information about each type of alert.


Floods are among the most frequent and damaging natural disasters, significantly affecting communities and economies around the globe.

To lessen the impact of floods, Google has created real-time flood prediction models, collaborating with local governments.

These models estimate when and where flooding will happen and how severe it will be, enabling people to be better prepared for possible floods.

Google’s flood prediction tech is based on physics-oriented modeling and machine learning.

It employs data from satellite images, measurement gauges, and elevation maps to produce precise forecasts and flood models, which determine the regions that will be submerged and the water’s depth.

In addition to forecasting, Google offers interactive maps allowing people to see their location relative to a predicted flood quickly., the philanthropic arm of Google, is working to support the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in building local networks to deliver flood alert information to those who may not have access to internet-connected devices.


Wildfires pose a significant threat to communities, and early detection is critical in minimizing damage.

Using data from NOAA’s satellites and the computing power of Google Earth Engine, Google can detect active wildfires and produce approximate boundaries on Google Search and Maps​.

Google’s wildfire boundary maps, built using infrared technology and optical imagery, are accompanied by safety information from local authorities.

This information includes details on shelters and evacuation procedures, which are crucial for those affected by wildfires.


Earthquakes are particularly challenging due to their unexpected and hard-to-predict nature.

To tackle this issue, Google has teamed up with ShakeAlert to deliver earthquake notifications straight to Android devices in California, Washington, and Oregon.

ShakeAlert, created by top seismologists, uses data from over 700 seismometers to identify and give early warnings for earthquakes.

Understanding that traditional seismometers aren’t accessible in many parts of the world, Google devised the Android Earthquake Alerts System, turning Android phones into mini seismometers and creating the largest earthquake detection network globally.

When an earthquake is identified, the system notifies Android users in impacted areas, enabling them to take necessary precautions and find safety.


In the days leading up to a hurricane, Google Search and Maps display detailed forecast cones from authoritative sources. These cones show the storm’s predicted trajectory, helping users understand the hurricane’s potential impact.

Google Maps also provides prominent alerts if a user’s route may be affected by storm activity, and road conditions are kept up to date to ensure safe navigation during such events.

Extreme Heat

To help communities adapt to rising temperatures, Google has launched initiatives focused on extreme heat alerts and AI-powered tools for urban heat mitigation.

When people search for information on extreme heat, Google Search will display new extreme heat alerts that provide details on when a heatwave is predicted to start and end.

Google’s alerts also include tips for staying cool and related health concerns to be aware of.

This information is prominently displayed in Search results, and the alerts are developed in collaboration with the Global Heat Health Information Network (GHHIN).


As the world faces increasing environmental crises, technology like Google’s environmental crisis alerts is vital in keeping people informed and safe.

This Earth Day, we recognize the importance of using technology to limit the impact of natural disasters.

By giving communities access to up-to-date information and resources for disaster readiness, Google is helping to reduce the consequences of harsh weather conditions.

Featured Image: 3d_kot/Shutterstock

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Coronavirus Crisis: Online Education Going Mainstream

How the pandemic is changing perceptions of online courses.  

By Shaun Dubash and Lisa Rohrer

As the world remains in the grip of the coronavirus crisis and students everywhere are experiencing virtual learning sometimes for the first time, many adults are also seeking insights and a boost to their resume through higher education. This is reflected in the U.S. Consumer Sentiment Online Survey recently conducted by Researchscape in partnership with the Market Research & Customer Insights team at Emeritus. While perhaps not surprising, the results indicate a remarkable shift in perception about online education, which appears to be going mainstream.   

Specifically, 40 percent of respondents said they are interested in pursuing further education or professional development in the next 12 months, and 82 percent said they are interested in some form of online learning. What brought on this interest? Well, 73 percent said it was spurred by the current global developments.  

Both sides – educators and their students – are being forced to understand the new medium of online learning. As the need for social distancing makes traditional on-campus programs a less feasible option, current and potential students are looking for alternatives. Search metrics are further proof of the evolution in thinking about online education. In fact, search volume for “online courses” increased 233 percent between March and April, which is when much of the United States entered the lockdown phase of the crisis. And the search volume for “online courses free” went up a whopping 400 percent. The survey results suggest that the most common ways people are currently looking to pursue further learning include free options, such as self-guided learning, online mini-courses, and MOOCs, followed by paid online short courses, paid online professional certificates and paid online bootcamps. Nearly 70 percent of those who considered free options also considered paid options. 

Now the question becomes, what this will mean for higher education moving forward. We believe these events will force even the top universities to think carefully about their online strategy, expanding beyond just non-credit MOOCs, to perhaps even their coveted degree programs. The current crisis is accelerating this thought process and moving them to be more serious about going online. Not only is this a critical business continuity measure, but as schools struggle to maintain international student enrollment in residence, online options offer an alternative way to reach students who may be increasingly unwilling or unable to relocate to obtain a degree. 

Furthermore, we are facing what looks to be a severe economic downturn. Traditionally, this is a time for people to go back to school and obtain the degree that they might have been putting off when job markets were strong. With more online options and the emergence of alternative credentials such as short certificate courses and online bootcamps / professional certificates, will the traditional residential university see the typical counter-cyclical enrollment boost that it has typically enjoyed during past recessions? Potential students will need access to building and demonstrating skills quickly; with more affordable options available, universities that are slow to adapt could further suffer. In fact, in the study, paid online graduate degrees were the least popular option among potential learners. 

There is no question that this pandemic is changing the world in ways big and small. One of the largest consequences of the virus’ spread and the need for social distancing is the rapid evolution of higher education. Undoubtedly, universities and colleges are shifting their programs from on-campus to online – and students are having to adapt. As a result, online education will more quickly gain validation and educators and recruiters will be more likely to accept online credentials. We believe these rapid changes will enable online educational options to have a huge impact on the landscape of educational credentialing going forward.

Shaun Dubash is senior director of online certificates at Emeritus and Lisa Rohrer is director of university partnerships at Emeritus. 

Apple’s Woz Returns To Spotlight

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Tech icon Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple and helped popularize personal computing, is obviously unafraid to try new things.

His latest venture is competing in “Dancing with the Stars,” ABC’s reality TV show which returns for an eighth season on March 9.

Wozniak may have dabbled in a slew of start-up companies since leaving Apple more than two decades ago, and most recently became chief scientist of Fusion-io, a fast-growing maker of data storage devices in Salt Lake City, Utah.

But nothing prepared the 58-year-old man, known to many as simply “the Woz,” for a turn as a competitive dancer. Wozniak had previously turned down an invitation to appear on the prime-time TV show, which drew 19 million U.S. viewers last season, and only relented after a friend pressed him, he told Reuters.

“We had one day of practice, that one day of practice is the scariest thing of my life ever,” Wozniak said in a phone interview on Friday. “I was already kind of shaking over nervousness. But I can’t learn. It seems like some very, very simple things are very difficult to learn and remember all these things.”

But Wozniak said he is having a ball practicing with partner Karina Smirnoff. “I’m getting so sore and tired but I go in there and I work hard,” he said. “I’m starting to get the feeling that we’ll actually pull something off that will look like a dance.”

Wozniak, of course, is famous for being unconventional.

More than 30 years ago, he and Steve Jobs started Apple in Jobs’ garage in Silicon Valley. Wozniak created the Apple I and Apple II computers, and the company went public in 1980, making the two founders very rich.

Wozniak ended full-time work at Apple in the mid-1980s, but still draws a small paycheck and says he’s a “token employee.”

He couldn’t say what Apple’s next big product might be — although he talks frequently with friends working there — and spoke proudly about its knack for capturing the imagination.

“Apple has been a leader in so many technologies, and the public sometimes doesn’t know what’s going to come next. It’s sometimes so surprising and shocking,” Wozniak said.

He last talked with Jobs a couple of weeks before the Apple CEO announced his medical leave of absence in January. Wozniak said he didn’t have any particular insight into how his friend was doing but said he sounded completely healthy and content.


Wozniak acknowledged he has had his pick of opportunities with start-ups, but he said Fusion-io’s technology “astounded” him. The company makes high-speed solid-state drives for use in computer servers, using flash memory chips instead of conventional mechanical disk drives.

Fusion-io has more than 300 customers including International Business Machines Corp and Hewlett-Packard. Investors include Dell Inc.

“I thought this was a company that had a great chance for big success and it’s always a lot more fun when you’re doing the sort of thing that has been your technology direction in life and your company is successful,” Wozniak said.

Solid-state drives are becoming more popular as an alternative to hard disk drives in laptops. They are faster, more energy efficient and more durable as they have no moving parts. However, SSDs are still far more expensive.

Wozniak said he plans to have a very hands-on role at Fusion-io and said he “absolutely” saw the technology eventually moving into PCs.

When asked about computing trends of the future, he said he expects multi-touch displays, which Apple helped popularize with the iPhone, to be ubiquitous on many products soon.

Although he doesn’t use a netbook, Wozniak said the future in the PC world is “portable and virtual” and sees huge potential in cloud computing, which is the use of Web-based technology for storing and delivering products and services.

“I really appreciate it every time I see us being able to make one more step toward cloud computing and not having to have everything in one machine, because I think that is the future but it’s a future that keeps fighting us,” he said.

Wozniak folded Wheels of Zeus, his wireless tech start-up, in 2006. After that, he kept busy with speaking engagements and other projects, but said he was fighting loneliness after his son graduated from high school and left home.

He sounded enthusiastic to dive into Fusion-io, but for the next few weeks, his attentions are focused on dancing.

He wouldn’t make any predictions about the competition — which include rapper Lil’ Kim, Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson and former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor — but Wozniak may have a secret weapon in his cult-like following in the tech world. A Facebook page and website have already sprung up to rally tech geeks to vote for him.

“If enough hackers care for me … maybe I’ll win the popular vote,” Wozniak said. “I don’t have any ideas that I can be a professional dancer.”

(Reporting by Gabriel Madway, editing by Tiffany Wu, Richard Chang)

As Mars Goes, So Goes Earth?

As Mars Goes, So Goes Earth? BU-aided NASA mission to explore sun’s effects there, and maybe here

The MAVEN probe will look on Mars for clues to Earth’s future. Photos courtesy of NASA

Slowly, slowly, the sun is searing Earth’s precious atmosphere. What might be the consequences of this galactic bake-off? BU astronomers will help NASA investigate that question by spying on a neighbor: Mars.

Billions of years ago, scientists believe, water coursed over the Red Planet’s face. Today, its arid surface may be a textbook on how solar heat not only evaporated that liquid, but also thinned the atmosphere by bleeding off nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Today, NASA is set to launch MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution), a small satellite, to do some chemical meter-reading in the Martian atmosphere.

“MAVEN will provide key knowledge for understanding how all atmospheres, even our own, have changed since the formation of the solar system,” says Paul Withers, a College of Arts & Sciences assistant professor of astronomy, who is one of a BU trio working on the project. Unlike studies of quicker, human-induced climate change, MAVEN will study “the longer, natural changes that occur as every planet’s atmosphere slowly boils away.”

When MAVEN takes off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral today, Withers will attend his first space launch, with “fingers crossed that all goes well,” he says. He’ll be joined by John Clarke and Michael Mendillo (GRS’68,’71), both CAS astronomy professors. Clarke, director of BU’s Center for Space Physics, has been part of MAVEN’s planning for eight years and now works with its instrument team.

MAVEN’s goal is to “detail the processes that lead to atoms and molecules escaping into space,” Clarke says, “so that we can extrapolate back in time to tell what the conditions were like when Mars was young.” Erosion channels on the planet suggest surface water earlier in its history, and the thicker atmosphere and warmer climate that would have gone with it, meaning, he says, “Mars may have begun its history looking much more like Earth,” and possibly hosting some form of life.

Withers’ past research has included study of the Martian ionosphere, the electrically charged atmospheric gas produced by the sun’s X-rays and ultraviolet light, which “blast atoms of neutral gas apart,” he says. This happens to all atmospheres within the sun’s reach, but “lucky for us, that dangerous sunlight gets absorbed high in the atmosphere, rather than blasting away at our skin and flesh.” His job with MAVEN is to investigate how Mars’ ionosphere is influenced by the sunlight’s intensity and by conditions in the neutral, uncharged portion of the atmosphere.

Mendillo has helped develop a new model of the Martian ionosphere at BU and hopes it will be validated by MAVEN and aid in interpreting data from the satellite. He also hopes that MAVEN will reveal useful information for future Mars exploration. On Earth, the ionosphere can cause GPS errors by affecting the system’s radio waves. A GPS-type system to pinpoint a rover or astronaut on Mars’ surface would have the same problem there, he says, so studying that planet’s ionosphere “has potentially important implications.”

Another BU study was the first to tie simultaneous ionospheric disruptions on Earth and Mars to a large solar flare, Mendillo says, showing that the sun’s effects on Mars could be instructive for the future of Earth’s atmosphere.

MAVEN is the first project of its kind, according to NASA: rather than crawl on the surface, the satellite will hang out in orbit, using its sensitive instruments “to pinpoint trace amounts of chemicals.” Clarke says BU is the only New England institution assisting the project, which is being led by the University of Colorado at Boulder.

MAVEN will reach Mars in 10 months and then take readings for two years (that’s by Earth’s calendar; only one Martian year will pass).

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How To Watch Crisis On Infinite Earths In Order

If you’re new, then watching every episode of Crisis on Infinite Earths in order may be a little confusing. This isn’t a standalone series; viewers have to skip between various shows to catch all five episodes. This is made all the more messy by the fact that the episodes are spread across multiple streaming services.

Read on to find out how to watch up on all of the Crisis episodes. We also have similar articles to watching the MCU movies and films in order, and the same for all Star Wars films and canon TV.

You can also find out how to watch Gotham Knights here.

How to watch Crisis on Infinite Earths in order

There are five episodes to watch, all embedded within the Arrowverse series. Here are which episodes and seasons you need to watch:

Part 1 – Supergirl, Season 5, Episode 9

Part 2 – Batwoman, Season 1, Episode 9

Part 3 – The Flash, Season 6, Episode 9

Part 4 – Arrow, Season 8, Episode 8

Part 5 – Legends of Tomorrow, Special Episode (prelude to Season 5)

What do I need to catch up on?

If you’ve not kept up with all the Arrowverse shows in their entirety (we can’t blame you, it is a lot) then here are the key episodes you should check out before you start watching Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Firstly, 2023’s crossover event Elseworlds is worth catching up on, as it introduces several plot points and characters that are revisited in the Crisis storyline. Plus, you’ll also get to see some of the character interactions and existing relationship dynamics.

You can get away without watching the latest seasons of Supergirl, Batwoman and Legends Of Tomorrow, but it’s worth watching the most recent series of both Arrow and The Flash, and the series 7 finale of Arrow to understand exactly what’s going on.

In addition, Black Lightning’s Earth Crisis episode (season 3, episode 9) directly precedes Part Three of Crisis on Infinite Earths, so you may want to consider adding that to your watch list after watching Part 2. You can catch up on that episode of Black Lighting on Netflix.

Where to watch all the Crisis on Infinite Earths episodes

In the UK, there are currently four episodes of Crisis on Infinite Earths that are available to watch on Sky Max and through Now’s Entertainment Membership (£9.99 per month). Sky subscribers should be able to find it in the library, and Now streaming owners can watch the episodes via the link below:

E4 has the rights to Batwoman and was airing the episodes on a weekly basis. Part 2 was available on All 4, but sadly this episode has now expired. However, if you have a cable package with Virgin, you can watch Part 2 via the Virgin Go app which is linked below:

There are three parts of the Crisis saga available on Netflix US. Whilst it isn’t free to sign up for Netflix, if you already have a UK account, you can access Netflix US pretty easily by downloading a VPN.

Using a VPN assigns the user a brand new IP address, which allows the user to appear as if they’re browsing from another country.

For the best range of services, performance and price, we recommend downloading NordVPN, or ExpressVPN. You can check out other options on our list of the best VPNs for streaming. We also have a list of free VPNs. However, the limited range of servers will make streaming quite difficult.

Simply download a VPN, choose a US server, open up a new browser and head on over to the Netflix website and sign in to your profile as you usually would. If you’d like more detailed instructions, you can find these in our guide to watching Netflix US in the UK. If you’re in the US, you should be able to access Netflix just as you usually would.

Sadly, Supergirl and Batwoman aren’t available on Netflix US. However, it is available on HBO Max, which costs $14.99 per month for ad-free viewing, or $9.99 per month for ad-free. Signing up for an account abroad is a little more complicated though – check out our full guide to watching HBO Max in the UK for more information.

Here are the links to the Crisis episodes on Netflix US and HBO Max:

Where to buy episodes of Crisis on Infinite Earths

If using the above method isn’t suitable, then both UK and US viewers can purchase individual episodes of Crisis on Infinite Earths through both Amazon UK and Amazon US. 

Alternatively, in the UK you can go old school and buy all the episodes on the official Crisis on Infinite Earths DVD, which also has some extra featurettes. You can get this from Amazon UK and HMV.

Mobilegeddon Is Here: Google’s Mobile

Editor’s Note: SEJ founder Loren Baker also contributed to this post.

Today, Google launched its long-awaited mobile-friendly algorithm update worldwide, which is estimated to affect a large % of mobile search queries. As more people use their smartphones to browse the internet, this update was made in an effort to provide users with the most relevant and timely results, whether the information is on mobile-friendly web pages or in a mobile app.

Today’s update is historical in a number of ways — in fact, it was making history well before it even launched. In an unprecedented move, Google issued a formal warning about this algorithm update last month, giving site owners time to make the necessary changes to their sites before the algorithm went live.

A Timeline of Google’s Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Update

November 2014 Last November, Google took its first step towards improving the way it delivers mobile-friendly search results to users. At that time, Google introduced the line of text we’re now all very familiar with, the “mobile-friendly” label that appears in snippets of certain sites. In order to determine if your site was truly mobile-friendly in Google’s eyes, the search giant also introduced its own mobile friendly testing tool which assesses your site against a set of criteria.

Now here’s where it gets interesting. When Google announced this tool, a hint was dropped about today’s algorithm update. Google stated: “We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal.” At the time, no one could have predicted quickly it would become a ranking signal.

January 2023 With the Mobile Usability component introduced in October, Google used Webmaster Tools to determine which sites weren’t mobile friendly and began sending warnings to owners of those sites. The warnings read as follows:

“Google systems have tested [X amount of] pages from your site and found that 100% of them have critical mobile usability errors. The errors on these [X amount of] pages severely affect how mobile users are able to experience your website. The pages will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smart phone users.”

Google was not-so-subtly trying to say that non-mobile friendly sites would end up being demoted in mobile search results. This was when things started getting serious.

February 2023 Those who didn’t heed Google’s warning in January were reminded once again in February — this time with a firm deadline as to when to get their sites in order. At the end of February, Google dropped the major announcement that as of April 21st, the search giant will be extending the use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal throughout mobile search results.

Google was careful to warn everyone that this update was not to be taken lightly. The announcement stated: “This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.”

April 2023 For many SEOs the clock has been ticking down to today, April 21st, when the update finally went live. Now that the day is here, let’s recap what we know about this monumental update.

What We Know About Today’s Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Update

Understandably, site owners are full of questions about today’s update. We wish we had all the answers for you, but with any algorithm update we won’t learn all there is to know until it has been live for a while. Here’s everything we know at this point:

It is Bigger than Panda or Penguin

It was revealed at SMX Munich last month that the mobile-friendly update would be bigger than either Panda (affecting 12% of queries) or Penguin (affecting 3% of queries).

It Will Only Affect The 10 Blue Links

Google recently confirmed that only the 10 blue links will be affected by today’s update. Google News, the Google Local pack, Google Image search, and other Google search properties will not be affected.

How to be in Compliance

How do you comply with today’s update? The simple answer to this is: run your site through Google’s mobile-friendly test and fix all the errors.

News From Google

Affects only search rankings on mobile devices

Affects search results in all languages globally

Applies to individual pages, not entire websites

While the mobile-friendly change is important, we still use a variety of signals to rank search results. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal — so even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank high if it has great content for the query. However, just saying that on its own isn’t very useful. That’s why we created the small business owner’s guide to the mobile-friendly update, which features everything you need to know in order to comply with today’s update and continue driving organic mobile traffic.

Google has also come out with a very resourceful FAQ in the Google Product Forums about Mobile Friendliness and today’s update.

Looking Forward

With the update now live, there is conversation happening on Twitter about #MobileGeddon ranking changes but it does appear that the rollout is slower than originally anticipated. Also, it looks like Google may have rolled out some other algo changes along with the mobile update; something they typically do from time to time. Dr. Pete from Moz

No major changes this morning – low-moderate flux, “Mobile-friendly” URLs up only a tiny bit to 70.5% (probably last-minute changes). — Dr. Pete Meyers (@dr_pete) April 21, 2023

Across 30,000 keywords, we are seeing a 1% shift in mobile friendly results #mobilegeddon — rjonesx (@rjonesx) April 21, 2023

Good Advice from Annie Cushing on Testing Across Multiple Devices

ok, call me crazy, but I’m seeing some significant movement for some sites – and I don’t think it’s the mobile thing… — Rae Hoffman (@sugarrae) April 21, 2023

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