Google Maps has introduced a new wildfire layer to the navigation service that will allow users to know where forest fires are in real-time so they can take any necessary precautions if they are in the vicinity. With the wildfire layer, users can get details about multiple fires at once, allowing them to make quick, informed decisions during times of emergency.
Google will also be providing quick links to emergency services in Maps when there is a fire nearby so one can save precious time in an emergency. These include emergency websites, phone numbers for help and information, and evacuation details. Other available information will include details on containment, acres burned, and the timestamp of reports.
The wildfire layer itself will be powered by satellite data to help users in real-time. will start to roll out globally this week on Android, with iOS and desktop coming in October, and will display most major fires that cause significant evacuations.
If you’re in the US the layer will also include some more information thanks to the data from the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC). The enhanced details will roll out to more countries in the future including Australia.
Google also announced a new Address Maker app that will help individuals and organisations use Google’s open-source system called Plus Codes to create “unique, functioning addresses at scale, right from an Android app”.
The app will reduce the time taken to create an address for villages and towns from years to a few weeks, claims Google. “Address Maker allows organizations to easily assign addresses and add missing roads, all while making sure they work seamlessly in Google Maps and Maps APIs,” Google said in a recent blog post.
The company is also expanding its Tree Canopy insights tool from 15 US cities to over 100 new cities across the world. These include London, Sydney, and Toronto. The tool uses aerial imagery and advanced AI capabilities to identify places in a city that are at the greatest risk of experiencing rapidly rising temperatures.
“These places, known as heat islands, disproportionately impact lower-income communities and contribute to a number of public health concerns — from poor air quality to dehydration,” Google says, adding that “with Tree Canopy data, local governments have free access to insights about where to plant trees to increase shade, reduce heat and mitigate these adverse effects”.