Google Maps to roll out wildfire tracking worldwide

Users around the world can keep a close eye on multiple fires at once after Google introduced a wildfire layer for Maps. The tech giant claims that this new feature builds on the wildfire boundary map it rolled out in the US last year and it’s meant to help people “make quick, informed decisions during times of emergency.”
Engadget reports that with this layer enabled, users will be able to see the wildfires raging in their location — tapping on any of them will bring up links to emergency websites, helpline numbers and evacuation details provided by the local government.
Wildfire layer for Maps
This tool will also show details about the fire that includes — its containment, the acres it has already burned and the time that information was last reported. This tool will let you view the exact boundaries of a wildfire just as easily as you can look up the current traffic patterns.
The wildfire layer will start its global rollout to Android devices first and then to iOS devices and PCs later in October.
While it will display the most major fires — the kind that necessitates evacuations — around the world, it’ll have the capability to display smaller incidents in the US, thanks to data provided by the National Interagency Fire Center.
Google is planning to offer that level of detail in more locations, starting with Australia in the upcoming months.
There’s still one limitation that Google has yet to figure out with the wildfire layer. It can only be updated when the user is connected to the internet, which poses problems when wildfires take out power lines and cell towers.
Google’s Tree Canopy tool
Google is expanding the information available through its Tree Canopy tool. At the moment, it can only provide data for 15 cities in the US, but it’ll be able to show information for 100 cities around the world in 2022.
Google’s Tree Canopy Insights combines AI capabilities with aerial data to determine the parts of a city with the greatest risk of rapidly rising temperatures. wants city planners to use the Tree Canopy tool to combat the phenomena of urban heat islands, where miles of asphalt and a dearth of shade from trees can cause cities to be significantly hotter than the surrounding areas.
Google says heat islands “disproportionately impact lower-income communities and contribute to a number of public health concerns — from poor air quality to dehydration”. Tree Canopy could help local authorities to figure out where to plant trees and where to focus any project they may have to fight climate change.
For instance, Los Angeles authorities are already using the tool to help them increase the city’s tree canopy by 50 per cent by 2028. While Google didn’t clearly mention which cities are getting access to the tool by next year, it said Guadalajara, London, Sydney and Toronto are on the list. The tool is also being used by officials in Louisville, Austin, Chicago, and Miami.

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