Google crisis map charts Hurricane Sandy progress
As New York prepares for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy, Google has launched a special crisis map which will help residents keep an eye on its progress.
Users will be able to track the location of the hurricane and immediately see where the worst hit areas are. This will also reveal when they should expect to be affected by the storm.
Google's map can also be used to direct New Yorkers to the nearest evacuation centre or shelter, and will continue to provide up-to-the-minute information as Sandy passes through.
Posting on the company's official blog, software engineer Ka-Ping Yee said: "We hope that you get the information you need to make preparations and stay safe if you are in the area," adding that the hurricane is predicted to be one of the worst storms the US East Coast has experienced in decades.
The search engine has also been forced to cancel a planned unveiling of its Nexus 4 smartphone and an updated version of the Jelly Bean operating system, as the planned presentation site now falls within a designated evacuation area.
Online news also made available for free
Two of the city's largest publications, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, are both set to removed the paywalls from their sites to allow residents greater access to news about Hurricane Sandy.
Normally, users would need to pay to access articles, but in special cases the paywalls are removed when people's safety is at stake. For example, a similar gesture was made during Hurricane Irene.
Social media is also proving a rich source for those seeking as much information as they can about the impending weather.
Before Hurricane Sandy arrived, the biggest news item had been the presidential campaigning from President Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney, but this is now on hold as the country prepares to deal with the storm.
Adrian Mursec, senior developer at theEword, said: "While the newspapers have shown simple common sense here, Google has gone a stage further in creating a special tool that New Yorkers can use to keep themselves safe. If it helps people avoid the worst effects of Hurricane Sandy, it will have been worth it."