Tag Archives: Google Earth

Down under, over and all around: Sydney in 3D on Google Earth

Google Earth is one of the world's most comprehensive 3D maps available. In addition to global satellite and terrain coverage, over the past several years we've been adding highly detailed 3D imagery of entire cities and towns, from the iconic architecture of cities like New York and Paris to views of landmarks like the Grand Canyon. And now, we’re sharing 3D imagery of central Sydney, Australia!

But 3D imagery of Sydney isn’t the only thing that’s new today. We've made many incremental improvements to our modeling process that, overall, help us achieve an even more precise 3D landscape. (You can check out this video to learn more about the process.) For a while now, parts of Sydney—sites like Sydney Harbour Bridge and Bondi Beach—have already been available in 3D. Expect to see this quality across all of our new Earth imagery.

Central Sydney sits beneath busy airspace, so it’s taken a while to make 3D models of the area. We’ve finally collected enough imagery to build a more complete picture of this iconic city. Explore landmarks like the Sydney Opera House and popular tourist spots Darling Harbour and The Rocks. You can even plan your next visit to Sydney with our guided tour, Explore Sydney.

You can see all the places where we have 3D imagery available in Google Earth.

Source: Google LatLong


Rove around “Mars on Earth” in Street View

Devon Island, a desolate land mass in Canada’s Arctic with a polar climate and treacherous terrain, is the largest uninhabited island on Earth. Yet the factors that make the island unlivable also make it indispensable to the scientists and researchers who work there—its climate and landscape are the closest thing to Mars that can be found on Earth.  

Mars on Earth: A Visit to Devon Island

Now anyone can visit "Mars on Earth" in Street View. Last year, I received a special invite from Dr. Pascal Lee, chairman of the Mars Institute and director of the Haughton-Mars Project, to visit Devon Island and learn about the research done there. We spent three months preparing for the expedition, and after 72 hours on seven flights, found ourselves at basecamp surrounded by an untouched landscape.

Devon Island, much like a future base on Mars, lacks the infrastructure we take for granted. All the supplies needed for camp—food, gasoline, tools and personal supplies—must be brought along on each excursion, and all the waste packed up and brought back to the mainland. At the research base, everyone has their job. Even Dr. Lee’s dog KingKong has a responsibility—he’s there to serve as an advance warning in case a polar bear wanders into camp.


Every morning, before heading out to collect Street View on ATVs, we would brief as a group to make sure everybody knew the plan that day: who was leading, who would ride rear, and who was staying at camp to cook and handle maintenance. This provided a real insight into how humans who will go to Mars will explore the new planet: detailed planning and preparation is key.

Visit Devon Island in Google Earth

Visit Devon Island on Google Earth

Throughout the week, we rode to some of the places of most interest to NASA’s research and exploration: Haughton Crater, an impact crater 20-kilometers in diameter; Astronaut Canyon, similar to many of the V-shaped, winding valleys on Mars; and the ancient lake beds of Breccia Hills. What strikes you most about Devon Island is how vast and desolate everything is. Yet every rock, hill and canyon tells a story. Breccia Hills, for example, is filled with shatter cones, rocks created by meteor impact millions of years ago.

We were also able to capture our experience on a Pixel 3, shooting the first-ever documentary filmed on Pixel to showcase just how majestic, and sometimes trying, training for a Mars Mission on Devon Island can be.


Explore “Mars on Earth” and learn about the work being done there in a new Google Earth guided tour.

A new app to map and monitor the world’s freshwater supply

Water affects all of us, no matter where we live. Drought harms everyone, from farmers in the western United States dealing with long-term drought, to people in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan suffering debilitating health consequences from the Aral Sea draining, to millions of people displaced by floods in Kerala, India. About four billion people, or almost two-thirds of the world’s population, experience severe water scarcity at least one month of the year.


Water, critical to daily life, and a key priority in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 6), has proven difficult for most countries to measure. In 2017, of the roughly 200 United Nations Environment member countries, 80 percent of them were unable to provide fundamental national statistics. Even still, many knew substantial changes were happening.
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The Aral Sea has shrunk by around 80 percent since 1985

Today, on World Water Day, we’re proud to showcase a new platform enabling all countries to freely measure and monitor when and where water is changing: UN’s Water-Related Ecosystems, or sdg661.app. Released last week in Nairobi at the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA), the app provides statistics for every country’s annual surface water (like lakes and rivers). It also shows changes from 1984 through 2018 through interactive maps, graphs and full-data downloads.

This project is only possible because of the unique partnerships between three very different organizations. In 2016, European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) and Google released the Global Surface Water Explorer in tandem with a publication in “Nature.” An algorithm developed by the JRC to map water was run on Google Earth Engine. The process took more than 10 million hours of computing time, spread across more than 10,000 computers in parallel, a feat that would have taken 600 years if run on a modern desktop computer. But the sheer magnitude of the high resolution global data product tended to limit analysis to only the most tech savvy users and countries.

The new app, created in partnership with United Nations Environment, aims to make this water data available to everyone. Working with member countries to understand their needs, it features smaller, more easily manageable tables and maps at national and water body levels. Countries can compare data with one another, and for the first time gain greater understanding of the effects of water policy, and infrastructure like dams, diversions, and irrigation practices on water bodies that are shared across borders.
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Lake Mead, the largest man-made reservoir in the United States, has fluctuated as Las Vegas expands.

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Egypt's Toshka Lakes lakes were created by diverting water from Lake Nasser so crops could be irrigated in the desert region. When the project was abandoned, the lakes evaporated.

Today, countries have very different capacities when it comes to monitoring their waters. Countries with substantial existing resources have found the app results align closely with their current methods, and are evaluating using this new data source, which will enable them to reallocating resources toward other priorities in the future. For countries that have never had this information, the app provides free, scientifically validated data, that will now inform their environmental policies. For the first time ever, we have a globally consistent way of measuring water and its changes over time. And it’s accessible to everyone.


The UN’s theme for this year’s World Water Day is “Leaving no one behind,” and we’re working to do just that. Google platforms are playing an important role to help every country better understand their own environment and resources, so we can all design for a sustainable world.

Your mission, gumshoe: Catch Carmen Sandiego in Google Earth

I distinctly remember being tucked into the couch, computer on and ready for the chase. With my assignment from ACME (first stop: Paris) I traveled from Singapore to Tokyo to Kathmandu chasing VILE villains, always on the lookout for that iconic scarlet coat and fedora.

Like many of my friends, I spent much of my time in the ‘90s obsessing over “Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?”—the games, the cartoon and the classic game show. I can remember Carmen Sandiego teaching me the currency of Hungary (forint), the capital of Iraq (Baghdad), and dozens of country flags—Argentina’s blue and white, Germany’s black, red and gold.

But Carmen Sandiego was more than just fun facts for children and adults alike. The globe-trotting game taught me the world was bigger than my couch, and got me excited to learn about new cultures and customs. That curiosity has taken me to more than 30 countries. (Carmen’s also responsible for a theme song that has been stuck in my head for decades.)

Where on Google Earth is Carmen Sandiego?

To celebrate the global explorer in all of us, today we’re introducing The Crown Jewels Caper, the first in a series of Carmen Sandiego games in Google Earth. Created in collaboration with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the home of Carmen Sandiego, our game is an homage to the original. It’s for all those gumshoes who grew up with the chase, and for the next generation feeling that geography itch for the first time.

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To get your assignment, look for the special edition Pegman icon in Google Earth for Chrome, Android and iOS. Good luck, super sleuths!

To help make Google more inclusive, I had to understand my journey

I was born to a black father and a white mother in 1967, and at that time, it was illegal for them to get married. That changed two months after I was born, in June of that year, courtesy of the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Loving v. Virginia.

Throughout my life, from a childhood in Texas to a career in computer science, I have faced discrimination in ways both seen and unseen. Now at Google, I strive to make my team, and the products we create, inclusive and welcoming to everyone. But before my journey would lead me to this perspective, I first needed to reconcile with my past.

Camie Hackson childhood

By 1969, two years after Loving v. Virginia, my parents felt they could get married without fear of arrest. I attended the ceremony.

What most folks would understand as racism, I only knew as life in Texas. I knew that my mother was less likely than my father to be pulled over by the police, and that my white classmate’s parents wouldn’t allow him to take me to the freshman dance. But I never fully considered the external factors that made this a reality. For me, it was simple: Society was a system with rules, and those rules didn’t work for me the way they did for everyone else.

I carried this attitude with me to college. Berkeley was a considerably more diverse space than San Antonio, but as I looked around my computer science classes, I didn’t see much of anyone who looked like me. But if Texas had taught me anything, it was that there was very little time for me to feel sorry for myself. In the face of adversity, you work harder. And that’s what I did. I put my head down and focused all of my energies on studying, soaking up as much knowledge as I could.

Camie Hackson college

Growing up, managing my hair was always an ordeal, and something my mother had never encountered before. In 1988, I met a hairstylist in Berkeley who taught me how to manage it, and they submitted this style to an industry magazine.

This perseverance landed me in Silicon Valley, where I began my career as a software engineer. Despite my best efforts to work hard and advance, I began noticing a trend. I kept receiving feedback that I wasn’t technical enough. Of course, I wouldn’t have gotten to where I was if that were actually true. In reality, it was never about being “technical enough.” It was a matter of looking technical enough. Technical people looked like the dominant culture in the industry, and that certainly wasn’t a black woman.

But I didn’t complain. Instead, I took on technical tasks that typically would be assigned to my direct reports. I started wearing my glasses, and I took off my jewelry. I performed a version of myself that reflected those around me. I did whatever I could to not only look the part, but prove it in ways not required of my peers. I dedicated as much time to acting my role as I did executing it.

This wasn't just my problem. It was a societal issue.

After 24 years in the industry, I rose to the ranks of engineering director at Google in 2012. Beyond my technical achievements, I became known for putting together great teams. My manager at that time asked me to lead our team’s Diversity and Inclusion efforts. I thought I was totally ignorant about the subject—but I quickly learned the challenges I faced weren’t just specific to my experience.

As I began to educate myself, I and many others were being introduced to the demographics of the tech industry for the first time. I was aware of the fact that I was usually the only minority in my room, but not until that point did I realize that it was like this in nearly every room. I began talking to the people around me, listening to their stories. Years of accepting my narrative as uniquely my own had proven false. This wasn’t just my problem, it was a societal issue. There were many others in my position, and I made it a priority to help them navigate our collective reality.

Camie Hackson

Since then, my work in Diversity and Inclusion at Google has transformed considerably. What began as a push to teach minorities how to survive in tech has moved towards a push for a radical shift in culture. In my career, I needed those “survival” skills. I am a black woman in tech; I wouldn’t be here without the skills I have honed over the years. But today, we want more than survival in the workplace—we want people to thrive.

I’m part of the Geo group at Google, where my team works on products like Google Maps Platform and Earth Engine. We create tools for everyone, and in order to do this effectively, it is imperative that we have a team that reflects that diversity. But if a diverse team is spending half their efforts convincing others that they belong, what’s the point? Change begins at the top, and so that’s where I’ve focused my attention.

Because leadership carries an outsized impact on culture, we’ve trained our managers on not only the importance of diversity but provided them with the tools to foster an inclusive workplace. We tasked them with pushing their teams to bring their stories to work and share them with colleagues. By doing so, we can foster a culture of understanding people for who they are and not who they feel they need to be.  And so far, I’m proud to say that it’s working.

I’m hopeful for the future, because of how far we’ve come. This journey is not simply my own, but a reality for many. Those who came before me have had to deal with it, and I know my daughters will too. But we can and will be better. Our journey has shown us that.

The Journey of Us: A Voyage through Black History

Like Black history itself, my journey contains multitudes. It began in New York City, where I grew up during the rise of the civil rights movement. The social politics of the time didn’t encourage me—a woman of color--to pursue a career in science, technology or math. But thankfully my father did. He built me my first chemistry set, encouraging me to build, create and fix things even as my childhood lab experiments went awry.

This empowerment pushed me to earn a PhD, land my first job at AT&T Bell Laboratories, and eventually come to Google. Along the way, I kept trying to fix whatever problems I faced.  At AT&T, I patented inventions that helped create Voice Over Internet Protocol (or VoIP, the technology behind communication like text messages), and the technology behind text donations that were popular during the 2010 Haiti earthquake. At Google, I’ve worked with teams to find ways to bring internet connections to more places with things like Project Loon and the deployment of Wi-Fi across India’s railway system.

There were no shortcuts to these challenges, but I forged ahead inspired by two things: my passion for fixing things and knowing that others before me had taken similar paths (and succeeded!).

Black history is filled with stories of people like myself who set out on journeys to challenge the status quo and make things better. Today, in collaboration with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and The Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University, we celebrate some of these historic and contemporary journeys. Take a guided tour with Google Earth’s "The Journey of Us" collection to explore how Black history has shaped the American experience and continues to move us forward across themes like advocacy, business, dance, education, film, TV and technology.

My story is a single pin in a sea of many. The stories include generations of people who pushed boundaries and resisted limiting ideologies as they paved the way for the next generation. While we hope to make their journey a little better than ours, it mostly certainly won’t be easy. People will doubt us, and at times we will doubt ourselves, but through it all we will push forward.

The movement to power Puerto Rico with the sun

On September 16, 2017, Hurricane Maria, the worst natural disaster on record to affect Puerto Rico, left people without homes or electricity. Eight months later, over 1,000 households were still without power. So communities across the island set out to find creative ways to generate electricity.


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After the disaster, the government of Puerto Rico committed to ambitious plans to transform its hurricane-battered electric grid to rely entirely on renewable energy by 2050. Project Sunroof maps the solar potential for buildings, in an effort to support the world’s transition to a renewable energy future. After the hurricane, we worked quickly to integrate Project Sunroof data covering Puerto Rico with Sunrun, a residential solar, storage and energy services company. Sunrun streamlined designs and installations across local installers to offer solar-as-a-service and home battery solutions to households, local fire stations and small businesses in Puerto Rico. For example, Maximo Solar, one of the leading solar installers on the west side of the island, used Project Sunroof data to support over 100 installations.

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Of the 44,000 Puerto Rico rooftops that were surveyed by Project Sunroof, 90% of them were viable for solar—showing the longer term opportunity for island residents to harness renewable energy from the sun. By identifying the best locations to install solar panels, Project Sunroof data puts actionable insights in the hands of communities working towards energy independence, enables critical cost savings and reduces some of the complexities in the installation process.

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Responding to any crisis of the magnitude of Hurricane Maria is a complex endeavor, but Puerto Rico is a powerful example of how communities can respond rapidly to deploy solutions that improve and protect the livelihood of people. When put in the hands of local installers, solar information for Puerto Rico helped meet the urgent short term need for electricity and the movement towards a long term renewable energy future. Our work on Project Sunroof demonstrates one of Google’s many ongoing efforts to continue investing for the benefit of Puerto Rican residents and economic recovery efforts on the island.

Parent helpline answers: How do I keep my family safe from opioid addiction?

Editor’s Note: This Saturday, October 27 is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Across the nation, people are disposing of their leftover, unneeded prescription drugs at local Take Back events to prevent drug misuse. Google has partnered with the DEA to make these locations easier to find. Visit g.co/rxtakeback to find a location near you and make a plan to bring back your prescriptions.

Earlier this year, Google.org gave $750,000 to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids to expand and improve our Parent Helpline that supports parents and other caregivers of young people struggling with substance use. As the mother of a child in recovery, I’ve seen firsthand how opioid addiction hurts our loved ones, families and our communities. I also work with the Partnership to help educate about opioid use and addiction, and I volunteer as a Parent Coach – providing peer-to-peer support to other families.

Today I'm sharing some of the most frequently asked questions I hear from parents about opioid addiction.

Aren’t opioids legally prescribed by doctors, and therefore safe?

Even though opioid pain relievers can be prescribed by doctors to manage pain, opioids have high risks of addiction and dependence. While other pain relief options should be explored before taking opioids, when taken as prescribed for short periods of time, opioid pain relievers may generally be safe for most adults. But because opioid pain relievers (which have the same properties as heroin) can produce a sensation of euphoria in addition to pain relief, some people take them for longer stretches and increase the dosage over time – which can lead to addiction.

What can I do, right now, to keep my family safe?

  1. Ask your doctor about alternatives to opioids to manage pain.
  2. Secure all of the medication in your home.
  3. Make sure that medications for you and your loved ones are used only as prescribed, and not shared with anyone else,
  4. Dispose of unused or expired medications at a Take Back location this weekend. Enter your zip code or address into the map here and find a local take-back facility.
takebackmap

But my child isn’t using opioid drugs – why do I need to clean my medicine cabinet?

When surveyed, more than half of teens say that it’s easy to get prescription drugs from their parent’s medicine cabinet, and two-thirds of teens who report misusing Rx medication get it from friends, family and acquaintances. While it’s tempting to keep old prescriptions around “in case you need them later,” it’s safer to dispose of them when the immediate need is over. Proper medication storage and disposal can help prevent misuse even beyond your own family.

How can I talk to my child about drug misuse?

While a majority of kids report that their parents have talked to them about avoiding alcohol (81%) or marijuana (80%), only 18% of kids say that their parents have talked to them about prescription drug use. Kids who learn about the dangers of drug use early and often are much less likely to develop addiction than those who do not receive these important messages at home. Conversations about the importance of using medications as prescribed, including not sharing medications or taking anything that hasn’t been prescribed to oneself, are critical messages to convey. Learn more tips for talking about medication misuse.

What signs should I be on the lookout for?

Signals range from the obvious, like missing prescriptions and empty pill bottles, to subtler signs like sudden mood changes, isolating from family or friends, and losing interest in hobbies that used to bring joy. Early use can sometimes bring about positive behavior and moods, like being overly motivated or having lively conversations.

Opioid addiction can also manifest in physical ways: Look for signs of fatigue and drowsiness, pinpoint pupils and dark circles under the eyes, and rapid weight loss. Learn more about opioid medication, including common signs of misuse.  

What do I do if I find out my child is misusing or abusing opioids?

It can be scary to learn that your child is misusing opioids, but there are steps you can take to help:

  • Learn about tools to help motivate your child to get treatment.
  • Start a conversation, not a confrontation, and always remember to listen.
  • Consider your treatment options, including medications that can help reduce cravings associated with opioids.
  • As a safety precaution, you can talk to your doctor or pharmacist about getting Naloxone (known by the brand name Narcan) which is used to reverse an opioid overdose.

When I found out my child was misusing opioids, I was scared and felt alone—and felt like I had nowhere to turn. But parents and families don’t have to face this alone. Compassionate, one-on-one support and guidance are within reach. You can connect with a Helpline Specialist at the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids by calling 1-855-DRUGFREE. You can also contact us by text (send a message to 55753) or email at our website at drugfree.org.

If you are an adult who is personally struggling with addiction, or you’d like information on how to help a loved one, you can find opioid addiction resources through the Federal SAMHSA Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP. 

Finding my way back to Antarctica with the help of Google Earth

Editor’s note: This guest post comes from a rock climber and adventurer who used Google Earth to aid his quest to explore Antarctica's remote Queen Maud Land with other athletes from The North Face team.


Nearly twenty-two years ago, my late friend Alex Lowe, Jon Krakauer and I huddled over a stack of tattered Norwegian maps from the“International Geophysical Year, 1957 - 58.” These were the first maps of Antarctica's remote Queen Maud Land, a stark glacial landscape dotted with impossibly jagged granite spires protruding from thousands of feet of ice. As we scanned the only detailed account of this faraway land, the complex and cryptic landscape made it blatantly obvious why these were some of the last unclimbed peaks on earth.


Back in ‘98, our paper maps were a static window into this dynamic land. We peeked in with trepidation, knowing that once we arrived on the ice cap, our lives would depend on rough estimations and ballpark figures, which still left a lot to chance. How many days would it take to reach the towers from our base camp? What if a storm pinned us down? What if we were unable to cross a dangerously crevassed part of the glacier?


Two decades later,  the same thirst for pushing limits in the face of the unknown is calling  me back to Queen Maud Land. This time the adventure began with my family in the comfort of our living room in Bozeman, Montana—our paper maps are replaced with smartphones and laptops. With Google Earth, my family was able to explore Queen Maud Land with me before my boots ever touched the ground. Together, we flew over snow covered glaciers and found our way up the massive granite walls I hoped to scale with my fellow teammates who are climbing with me as a part of an expedition put together by The North Face. We understood the complexity and enormity of the expedition together.

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I always tell my family that the most important part of the mission is coming home—a goal that requires obsessive preparation, planning and training. Google Earth allowed us to drop pins on potential landing zones suitable for the fixed wing aircraft we were going to travel in. With the ability to visually assess the landscape in 3D, we could better see hazards and challenges before embarking on the expedition. Climate change has dramatically altered the landscape of the Antarctica I explored in the nineties and looking at up-to-date satellite imagery helped me come up with a new approach to navigating the terrain.

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When we finally touched down on the ice, my fellow climber Cedar Wright aptly mentioned that “it was pretty surreal to recognize a place you had never physically been by your time spent exploring it remotely using Google Earth.” And he was right. After we got our bearings, we were able to confidently and strategically explore dozens of never-before-climbed peaks in this lunar landscape. The challenges of climbing in the frozen landscape were ever present, but the gift of being able to successfully put up so many stunning new climbs with a team of this caliber was an unforgettable privilege.

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Conrad Anker working his way up Ulvetanna, “The Wolf’s Tooth,” in the Drygalski Mountain Range, in Antarctica. Photo by Savannah Cummins.


On expeditions like these we are reminded of why we explore. They’re a physical and mental challenge that demonstrate how we are capable of succeeding in places we never before thought possible. The spirit of exploration is alive and well across our society–and technology like Google Earth opens up even more possibilities to explore ... so, what will your next adventure be?


Learn more about the expedition and check out all of the photos & videos from The North Face expedition to Antarctica.


The more you know: Turning environmental insights into action

This week, thousands of leaders from cities, states, businesses, investors, and environmental organizations—including representatives from Google—will gather in San Francisco, CA at theGlobal Climate Action Summit to commit to raising the level of ambition in the fight against climate change. National governments around the world have committed to take action, but cities and businesses have an equally critical role to play in reaching a zero-carbon future. That's one reason we're excited about today's announcement of a new tool aimed at helping cities lower emissions.


Cities as diverse as New York, Berlin, Oslo, and Rio de Janeiro have committed to reducing their carbon footprint by 80 percent within the next 30 years. These cities rely on huge carbon data sets as a measuring stick to help identify where they may be able to cut emissions.  But many cities lack the resources to gather data such as building emissions, making it hard for them to set firm carbon commitments of their own.

The Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE), a new online tool we created in collaboration with the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM), is designed to make it easier for cities to access, and act upon, new climate-relevant datasets.  By analyzing Google’s comprehensive global mapping data together with standard greenhouse gas (GHG) emission factors,  EIE estimates city-scale building and transportation carbon emissions data, as well as renewable energy potential, leading to more globally-consistent baselines from which to build policies, guide solutions, and measure progress.

Introducing The Environmental Insights Explorer

To date, more than 9,000 cities have made commitments to comply with the Paris Agreement, which presents a formal plan and timeline to phase out reliance on fossil fuels. But less than 20% have been able to complete, submit or monitor greenhouse gas inventories.

The process for building out a baseline emissions inventory can take hundreds of thousands of dollars and months or even years. “The vast majority of cities aren’t in the position to finance a process that will take time and might be cost prohibitive, especially the small to medium cities in developing areas of the world. And that’s where most of the action will take place in relation to the Paris Agreement on climate change,” explains Amanda Eichel, the executive director for the global secretariat at GCoM, an international alliance of nearly 10,000 cities and local governments committed to fighting climate change.

With EIE, data sets that once required onsite measurements and many months to compile can now be assessed virtually, reducing cost and time investment that prevents cities from taking action.

Data packaged to prompt action

On the EIE site, data is freely available in four categories: building emissions, transportation emissions, energy offset potential, and 20-year climate projections. Clicking on “Building emissions,” for example, brings up detailed maps visualizing the emissions impact for both homes and non-residential buildings.

In each category, you can drill down into more specific statistics, including percentage breakdowns of emissions, the time period from which the data was culled, key assumptions made. You can also find links to other critical information, such as ways to reduce emissions.

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Emissions data gets more specific the deeper you get into the site.“This tool will provide us with much more precise data on the flow of transport emissions and the potential of the City to generate solar energy,” says Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta. “It is a key input to design policies that reduce emissions and make Buenos Aires a smarter, greener and more sustainable and resilient city.”

In addition to helping policy makers, planners, and researchers set city-wide emissions policies, the data can inform specific projects like new investments in solar, public transit, or mobility alternatives to reduce vehicle traffic. For example, a city could track a new transportation line’s potential impact on the city’s emissions profile before deciding whether to move forward and scale the project. Or a city could explore how transitioning some percentage of short car trips to bicycle trips would lower the overall carbon footprint. "Now we can bring data analytics to conversations about renewable energy and show people that they’re able to generate enough solar power for their entire city," says Brad Petry, Head of Data Analytics, Victorian Centre for Data Insights. Victoria's state government has set targets for 25 percent renewable energy by 2020 and 40 percent renewable energy by 2025.

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EIE estimates total solar potential for rooftops to show how much renewable power could be generated, helping cities evaluate ways to reduce overall building energy emissions.

Filling an information gap, collaboratively

EIE arose from a decade’s worth of climate-related projects at Google, including Project Sunroof, a tool that measures rooftop solar energy potential, and Earth Engine, a platform for geospatial analysis. Collectively these projects in conjunction with other Google data sources like building and transportation data, were pulled together to reveal valuable insights about cities' carbon impact—information that we realized could play a critical role in encouraging action by policy makers, city officials, and others.  But to be effective, the information needed to be packaged for easier absorption and more importantly, action.

We started by partnering with GCoM, founded by global city networks and supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the European Union,  which has been gathering the same comprehensive data we wanted to surface in our tool through other sources and methodologies. GCoM also has detailed knowledge of the intricacies of environmental policy and the political hurdles hindering change and action.

We shared our data inventories with one another, and GCoM helped connect us to different cities around the world to get their input on what they’d find most useful to help reach their emission goals. The methodology used to source, aggregate and distill the EIE data sets can be reviewed on the site. To ensure quality, we initiated a rigorous quality-assurance process months before launch.

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A work in progress

We're introducing EIE in beta today, covering a handful of pilot cities including Melbourne, Australia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Victoria, Canada; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Mountain View, California. But in time, we plan to make this environmental information available to thousands of cities, towns, and regions around the world. As more cities use this data, and as science evolves, we plan to iterate and expand on the tool, methodologies and datasets.  

Even providing thousands of cities with comprehensive, action-oriented datasets is just one piece of the emissions mitigation puzzle. Still, we’re excited to take this first step today with GCoM and pilot cities on a journey to accelerate global ambition and action toward a low-carbon future.

Learn more about Google’s other sustainability efforts in our 2018 Environmental Report and on sustainability.google.


Source: Google LatLong