Google Maps now tracks fires
A new layer of forest fires in Google Maps will make it easier to track multiple fires at once, a valuable resource for those living in affected areas.
Google rolled out a wildfire layer on Android phones last week for Google Maps. In recent years, climate change has made the wildfire season worse, especially in states like California. This has led many companies to do what they can to help keep communities safe.
In 2019, Google piloted a California wildfire boundary map that was released across the country in 2020. The feature was useful for many, but it couldn’t show more than one fire at a time. . Since then, residents of the affected areas have been hoping for an update from Google Maps.
Now Google has announced a new layer of wildfire, which started rolling out to Android phones last week. IOS and desktop users will have access to it starting in October. Google is working with the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) to show more fires, even small ones. In addition, the company plans to expand the data to other countries, starting with Australia.
How does the Google Maps Wildfire layer work?
The app works by using data collected by satellites and then Google’s geospatial analysis platform Earth Engine processes the information. Fires will appear on the map as red spots and pins. These will indicate how far the fire has spread. Users can tap the fire to see “important details about the fire, such as its containment, how many acres burned and when all of this information was last reportedThe resources also include evacuation details, phone numbers, and links to websites for emergency information. This will help residents keep abreast of wildfires and make informed decisions for action plans. However, as The edge notes, the wildfire layer is limiting as it can only be updated when the device is connected to the internet. This will make it difficult when the power lines go down. Google has not yet fixed this flaw.
The Layer of Fire isn’t the only new feature announced by Google. It extends two other programs for Google Maps, the Tree Canopy tool and Address Maker. Tree Canopy is an extension of Tree Canopy Lab launched in Los Angeles last year. This app allows governments to see which neighborhoods need more trees. Having more trees helps prevent heat-related injuries and deaths in areas most prone to heat waves. The Tree Canopy functionality will grow from 15 cities to over 100, including Guadalajara, London, Sydney and Toronto in 2022. Address Maker is an extension of Plus Codes that was launched in 2018. This program has created addresses in countries like ‘India. Now the company is bringing this to local rural areas. Address Maker uses Plus Codes to assign addresses to communities that do not have specific address structures. This program will make it easier for residents to apply for jobs and receive mail. In all, GoogleUpdates aim to improve the lives of communities around the world.
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Source: Google, The Verge
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