Google has introduced a wildfire layer for Maps, allowing users around the world to keep a close eye on multiple fires at once. The tech giant says 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.” With the 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 local government.
If available, the tool will also show details about the fire, including its containment, the acres it has already burned and the time that information was last reported. The wildfire layer will start its global rollout to Android devices this week and to iOS devices and PCs in October. While it will display 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 coming months.
In addition, 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. It could help local governments figure out where to plant trees and where to focus any project they may have to fight climate change. Los Angeles authorities, for instance, are already using the tool to help them increase the city’s tree canopy by 50 percent by 2028. While Google didn’t say which cities are getting access to the tool by next year, it said Guadalajara, London, Sydney and Toronto are in the list.
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