Climate change is a crucial challenge for our generation, and tackling it requires a collective effort. To help everyone take action, we’re working to share knowledge about the planet through tools and technologies like Google Earth, the Earth Engine, and Environmental Insights Explorer, which combine a comprehensive world map with advanced artificial intelligence. With information about how the planet is changing, we can develop sustainability tools and help other organizations do the same. And we can work to meet our goal of helping people, cities, and partners collectively reduce one gigatonne of CO2 per year by 2030.
Today we are expanding our sustainability offering with new products on the Google Maps Platform. These products leverage AI and machine learning, along with aerial imagery and environmental data, to provide up-to-date information on solar potential, air quality, and pollen counts. With this technology, developers, companies, and organizations can create tools to map and mitigate environmental impacts.
Mapping the potential of solar energy
To encourage the use of solar technology, we launched Project Sunroof in 2015 to help people explore the estimated solar potential and savings in their area. Companies soon became interested in accessing this information, and now we are making this data available to interested parties. Our new Solar API leverages mapping and computational resources to expose detailed data on rooftop solar potential on more than 320 million buildings in 40 countries, including the US, France, and Japan.
To gain these insights, we trained an AI model to extract 3D information about roof geometry directly from aerial imagery, along with details about trees and shadows. In addition, the Solar API takes into account factors such as historical weather patterns in the region, energy costs, and more. This means that companies, such as solar installers, can see how much sunlight buildings are getting and the potential for energy savings before even touring the area. This technology, in turn, allows homeowners to install solar panels faster and easier while also feeding sustainable energy into the grid.
Shows reliable air quality information
In addition to reducing emissions, we also focus on helping people adapt to climate change. Last year, we introduced an air quality layer on Google Maps to help people make informed decisions about where to go and what to do. This was particularly relevant given the wildfires that are affecting so many people around the world. As there is a growing need for better air quality information around the world, we have developed our own dedicated API within the Google Maps platform. The API displays reliable air quality data, pollution heatmaps, and pollutant details for more than 100 countries around the world.
This API validates and organizes terabytes of data every hour from multiple sources, including government monitoring stations, weather data, sensors, and satellites, to provide a local and universal index. Part of this calculation involves analyzing real-time traffic information to understand congestion data and car numbers in an area, and we use machine learning to predict different pollutants in that area at any given time. This process empowers companies in healthcare, automotive, transportation, and more to provide accurate and timely air quality information to their users, wherever they are.
Prognosis of the most common allergens
Rising temperatures and greenhouse gas emissions are also causing pollen-producing plants to grow in more places and pollen production to increase, with additional negative effects for people with seasonal allergies.
Our new API shows up-to-date pollen information for the most common allergens in more than 65 countries. The API provides localized pollen count data, heat map visualizations, detailed information on plant allergens, and handy tips for allergy sufferers to limit exposure. To get this information, we use machine learning to determine where specific pollen-producing plants are located. Together with the local wind patterns, we can calculate the seasonality and the daily number of pollen grains and thus predict their dispersal.
With this information, companies that want to help people make healthier choices have access to data-driven insights. For example, a trip planning application can use this pollen information to predict daily commutes or vacation trips.
With these three new Google Maps Platform APIs, companies can access up-to-date environmental information to build sustainability products that help people adapt to the impacts of climate change. We’re dedicated to developing tools that organize environmental information and make that data actionable for businesses, cities, and partners so we can all take action together.