Google Maps makes it easier to see wildfires and tree cover

Google Maps has new features that should make it easier for users to see wildfires, treetops, and locations without formal directions. Everything aims to help communities to be “safer, more sustainable and easier to discover,” according to the company.

A new wildfire layer in Maps will begin rolling out globally this week, Google announced today. It will show the most major fires, the ones that cause evacuations, around the world. The red spots and pins on the cape will indicate where the flames are and how far they have spread. By tapping on any wildfire, users can see more information, such as how many acres have burned, what percentage of the fire has been contained, and links to local emergency resources.

The map is updated approximately every hour. It uses data collected by satellites that is then processed by Google’s geospatial analysis platform, Earth Engine.

It is based on a characteristic Google did a pilot test in California in 2019 and expanded to the rest of the US in 2020. That pilot allowed people in the US to see the changing boundaries of a nearby wildfire in near real time, but did not allow users to see more one fire at a time. . That was limiting, as multiple fires can break out simultaneously within the same region during the fire season, which is getting longer and more intense in the western US as a result of climate change.

Google implemented a new forest fire layer in Maps.

Google plans to implement a new forest fire layer in Maps.
GIF: Google

Users in the US will now not only have a bird’s-eye view of nearby large fires; They will also be able to see small fires on the map, a feature not yet available in other parts of the world. Australia and a few other places could have that capacity “in the coming months,” Google says.

However, there is still a limitation that Google has yet to resolve with the wildfire layer. It can only be updated when the user is connected to the Internet, which poses problems when wildfires occur. pull out power lines and cell phone towers.

The other two updates Google announced are primarily designed to give local governments better planning and mapping tools. Google launched a treetop laboratory last year in Los Angeles to help the city identify places that need more trees. Bringing more greenery to those neighborhoods is one way to prevent heat-related illness and death in the most vulnerable places during heat waves. Temperatures may differ from neighborhood to neighborhood depending on the amount of vegetation they have, a trend that is made worse by a history of racial segregation In the USA.

Google says Tree Canopy will be available in more than 100 more cities in 2022, including Guadalajara, London, Sydney and Toronto. Plot the density of the tree cover using images taken by plane for Google Maps.

Google's new Address Maker app makes it easy for users to trace routes to locations without a formal address.

Google’s new Address Maker app makes it easy for users to trace routes to locations without a formal address.
GIF: Google

Using Google Maps has always been more difficult for people who live in places without formal directions. That makes it difficult for packages and emergency services, such as ambulances, to reach many people living in rural areas and developing countries where addresses are not common. That’s why Google today launched a new app called Address Maker to make it easier for governments and NGOs to create their own maps to fill in the blanks.

Address Maker is an expansion of the existing version of Google. More codes, which allow people to share their location using a six-digit code instead of an address. (There are also plus codes for places with traditional addresses. The plus code for Google headquarters, for example, is ‘CWC8 + R9 Mountain View, California’).

While a Plus code for places without directions will appear on Google Maps, a route to reach it may not appear. Address Maker aims to make it faster and easier for local officials and advocates to assign Plus Codes to locations and plot previously unmapped roads for an entire community. It uses an open source algorithm and Plus codes can be accessed offline.

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