Google Releases New Mapping, Emissions Reduction Technologies

Google's tree canopy mapping tool analyzes tree coverage in Seattle

(Credit: Google)

by | Oct 13, 2023

Google has released a number of new technologies meant to improve transportation and energy efficiency, reduce urban emissions, and prepare for extreme weather conditions.

These new technologies will add to Google’s expanding portfolio of tools used for climate-related mapping, analysis, and insights.

Green Light Addresses Transportation Emissions Reductions

Google’s AI-based traffic light optimization platform, titled Green Light, is now available in 12 cities across the world. The Google Research initiative models driving trends and traffic patterns to make recommendations for optimizing existing traffic light plans. Early evaluation of the tool has revealed its potential to reduce stops by up to 30% and reduce emissions at intersections by up to 10%.

The company will also provide its fuel-efficient routing tool in India and Indonesia this year, expanding from its current availability in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Egypt. By providing users with routes that have fewer hills, less traffic, and more constant speeds, the platform is estimated to have already prevented 2.4 million metric tons of emissions.

In terms of its search functions, Google will now allow for easy comparison of electric vehicles for those looking to purchase, especially as EV searches have nearly doubled in the past two years. Those who already own an EV may benefit from the company’s Fuel Cost Calculator, which helps drivers compare the cost of charging compared to filling gas-powered vehicles.

Finally, the company is helping lower transportation-related emissions through its work with American Airlines. Using data analysis of contrails, or one form of emissions caused by air travel, Google was able to lower its presence by 54% in a recent trial.

Tools for Extreme Weather Preparation, Energy Efficiency

Along with addressing transportation emissions, Google has released new technologies for tracking extreme weather events.

Earlier this year, Google released new environmental mapping tools used to improve climate resiliency, such as targeted air quality information and pollen allergen forecasting. Now, the company is expanding its offerings used to address climate-related extreme weather, such as flooding, wildfires, and extreme heat.

Google’s Flood Hub riverine flood forecasts will now be available in the U.S. and Canada, which should help communities better prepare for and respond to flooding. Similar AI-based imaging and prediction tools are used for the Google wildfire boundary tracker, which is available in fire-prone regions of the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Australia.

After launching extreme heat alerts earlier this year, Google is expanding its Tree Canopy tool to help cities plan tree planting in order to reduce temperatures. The company’s Cool Roof tool similarly helps reduce the urban heat island effect by helping planners find the best places to use a white roof or other cool roof solutions.

Google’s search functions and mapping capabilities may help organizations and individuals adapt to the clean energy transition. Its grid mapping tools may help plan new renewables projects, with capabilities such as finding the best areas to install solar panels in urban areas. Further, those interested in saving money on powering their home may also benefit from Google’s improved search tool, which now includes energy efficiency data.

Google’s new offerings may help with worldwide climate change adaptation, from the individual level to a much larger city scale and beyond.


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