Google Maps rolls out AI-powered features to keep people safe during wildfires

By Arya M Nair, Intern Reporter
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The US-based tech giant, Google is rolling out a new update within its Maps called wildfire layer, which will allow users to check for wildfires and get access to better navigation.

People and organizations all over the world can use Google’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology and mapping data to get the helpful, credible information they need to tackle global concerns like climate change. As a result, the new mapping features will keep communities safer, more sustainable, and discoverable no matter where they are in the world.

Wildfire layer

Wildfire layer FeatureThe new wildfire layer is an expansion of the wildfire boundary map that was launched in the US last year. It helped them figure out the magnitude and location of fire via their devices. Users can see the latest updates about multiple fires at once with the wildfire layer feature, allowing them to make informed decisions in an emergency. Satellite data will be used to drive the feature.

When the feature is enabled on a user’s Google Maps app, they can see important details about a fire by tapping on it, such as its containment, how many acres have burned, and when was the information last updated. It will also have emergency websites and phone numbers.

The wildfires layer will start to roll out globally this week on Android, later this month on iOS and desktop, and will display major fires that cause significant evacuations.

Tree Canopy Insights

Tree Canopy Insights

Tree Canopy Insights, a Google tool, will track green cover and identify areas at greatest risk from rapidly rising temperatures.

Google said it plans to expand the data to more wildlife-prone countries starting with Australia later this year. In the first half of 2022, Tree Canopy Insights will be available in over 100 cities around the world, including Guadalajara, London, Sydney, and Toronto.

The Tree Canopy Insights uses aerial imagery and advanced AI capabilities to identify heat islands that are at high risk of rising temperatures. Local governments can use the free Tree Canopy data to learn where to grow trees to provide shade and reduce heat.

Address Maker app

Address Maker App

In addition, Google is launching an Address Maker app to help people find locations that don’t have proper formal addresses. People may now create unique, functioning addresses using the open course system known as Plus Codes.

The six-digit codes can be located on Google Maps and will be navigable. Address Maker also helps organizations to add missing roads. Governments and NGOs in Gambia, Kenya, India, South Africa, and the US are already using Address Maker.

Creating addresses for an entire town or village took years earlier. Address Maker reduces this period to just a few weeks, allowing under-addressed towns to get on the map quickly, while also reducing costs.

Related: Google brings new visual search feature; Combines image & text into one query


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