Google Maps Platform adds air quality and pollen info for changing climate realities

Google Maps Platform adds air quality and pollen info for changing climate realities

Google’s New APIs: Making Maps More Environmentally Friendly

Google Maps

In a groundbreaking move, Google has announced the launch of three new public APIs that expand the capabilities of its Maps platform beyond navigation. These APIs cover solar, air quality, and pollen data, and predictions, addressing the urgent need to tackle climate change and create a more sustainable future.

Google’s Maps, Routes, and Places APIs are already essential tools for developers, businesses, and institutions. However, with the addition of the new “Environment” category, Google aims to provide access to crucial data that will enable the creation of environmentally informed tools and services. These APIs offer invaluable insights into solar potential, air quality, and pollen levels, which can have a significant impact on public health, building sustainability, and reducing carbon emissions.

Assessing Solar Potential and Performance

Google Maps

One of the APIs introduced by Google focuses on solar potential and performance. Inspired by Google’s Project Sunroof, which entered the solar energy industry in 2015, this API provides data on rooftop solar potential for over 320 million buildings across 40 countries. By utilizing trained AI models and aerial images, Google’s API can extract 3D information about rooftop geometry. Combining this with foliage data, historical weather patterns, and local energy grid use and costs, the API can estimate solar cost and energy use. The collaboration with Mona Lee, a direct-to-consumer solar company, further strengthens the accuracy and effectiveness of this API.

Through the solar API, Google aims to empower homeowners to easily install solar panels, contributing sustainable energy back to the grid. By accelerating rooftop solar installation and reducing dependency on non-renewable energy sources, Google takes a significant step towards achieving its target of collectively reducing 1 gigaton of carbon equivalent emissions annually by 2030.

Tracking Air Quality to Reduce Pollution Exposure

Google Maps

Air quality has a direct impact on human health, and Google recognizes the importance of providing accurate and up-to-date information. Building on the already existing worldwide air quality layer in Google Maps, the new air quality API expands this data offering by providing robust air quality data, pollution heat maps, and pollutant details for over 100 countries globally.

The API utilizes a combination of government monitoring stations, meteorological data, sensors, and satellites to provide comprehensive air quality information. Through machine learning algorithms, the API adds a predictive element by estimating current pollutants based on live traffic information, congestion data, and car volume in a given area. This feature enhances the ability to make informed decisions and helps individuals avoid high-pollution areas, ultimately reducing their exposure to harmful pollutants.

Managing Allergies Through Pollen Data

Google Maps

As climate change continues to impact the environment, allergies caused by pollen have become a growing concern. Rising global temperatures and increased carbon dioxide levels lead to higher production of allergenic pollen, resulting in longer and more intense allergy seasons. In response to this issue, Google has introduced its first pollen API, which provides specific and localized pollen count data, heat map visualizations, detailed plant allergen information, and actionable tips for individuals suffering from allergies.

The pollen API utilizes machine learning models to estimate seasonality and daily pollen grains for three plant types (weeds, grass, and trees) and 15 different plant species. By offering accurate and timely information, this API helps individuals limit their exposure to allergens and manage their allergies effectively.

With these three new APIs, Google empowers businesses to access comprehensive environmental information and develop sustainability products. Additionally, these tools assist individuals in adapting to the impacts of climate change and promote a more eco-friendly way of living.

Google’s commitment to reducing carbon equivalent emissions by 1 gigaton annually by 2030 is reflected in these APIs. By leveraging AI, machine learning, aerial imagery, and environmental data, Google takes a significant step towards creating a more sustainable future for all.

Official Google Announcement