Google, the tech giant, has unveiled a groundbreaking set of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that leverage AI to gather real-time environmental data and provide insights into pollen levels, air quality, and solar energy potential across various countries, all through the platform of Google Maps.
These cutting-edge APIs were announced during the Google Cloud Next event, which commenced on Tuesday. This event showcases Google’s latest developer-focused features, particularly those aimed at sustainability and environmental sectors, with the aim of assisting individuals, cities, and partners in collectively “reducing a gigaton of their annual carbon equivalent emissions by 2023,” as stated by the company.
In pursuit of this objective, Google has introduced three new APIs that will allow developers to map information about pollen, air quality, and solar potential in different countries, all through the Google Maps Platform.
These innovative products employ AI and machine learning, combined with aerial imagery and environmental data, to provide real-time updates on the environment. “With this technology, developers, businesses, and organizations can create tools that map and mitigate environmental impact,” Google elaborated in a blog post.
One of the presented APIs focuses on solar energy potential. Built on the foundation of the Solar Roof Project launched in 2015, this API harnesses computational and mapping resources to offer users detailed solar potential data, specifically pertaining to rooftops. Remarkably, it can provide intricate details about the rooftops of over 320 million buildings in 40 countries, including the United States, France, and Japan.
To power this tool, Google utilizes an AI model that extracts 3D information about rooftop geometry from aerial images. It also incorporates data about surrounding trees and shadows, in addition to considering factors such as historical weather patterns for the region and energy costs.
Consequently, the solar API is capable of reporting the amount of sunlight buildings receive, which can be used to quantify potential energy savings for these structures. For instance, the API enables predictions for the installation of solar panels more quickly and easily, while also estimating the sustainable energy contribution these panels can make to the grid.
Air Quality Insights
Last year, Google introduced an air quality layer on Google Maps, providing users with real-time air health measurements to aid decision-making about their activities and locations.
In response to a growing global need for better air quality information, Google has now developed an API designed to offer reliable air quality insights. Beyond displaying data, this API presents pollution heatmaps and contaminant details for over a hundred countries worldwide.
To achieve this, the API validates and organizes “multiple terabytes” of data every hour, collecting information from diverse sources like government monitoring stations, weather data, sensors, and satellites. This allows it to provide localized information on a global scale.
For instance, a portion of the collected data includes real-time traffic information, enabling an understanding of the number of vehicles in a given area and how traffic affects air quality through machine learning.
Medical, automotive, and transportation-focused companies can derive valuable information from this API to enhance their operations or provide accurate insights to users.
Finally, Google has introduced an API capable of measuring pollen levels and forecasting allergen conditions. This API can offer information on common allergens in over 65 countries.
To gather this information, Google also employs machine learning to determine the locations of different types of pollen-producing plants. This data, combined with information about local wind patterns, seasonality, and daily pollen counts, helps create a comprehensive understanding of pollen distribution.
With all these insights, the API can provide detailed forecasts of pollen propagation. Applications such as travel planning can utilize this pollen information to “enhance daily commute planning or vacations,” according to the company.
Throughout these innovations, Google emphasizes that tackling climate change is a “defining challenge” of our era, requiring collective effort. As such, the company continues to work on sharing knowledge about the planet through tools and technologies like Google Earth Engine and Environmental Insights Explorer, which merge global map information with advanced AI.
Google’s commitment to leveraging technology for positive environmental impact underscores its dedication to shaping a sustainable future.