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Archive for September 30th, 2021

How 5 cities plan to use Tree Canopy to fight climate change

by Ruth Alcantara on Sep.30, 2021, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

Planting trees in cities helps provide shade, lower temperatures and contribute to cleaner air — all of which are huge benefits when it comes to adapting to the effects of climate change. That’s why we’re expanding our Environmental Insights Explorer Tree Canopy insights to more than 100 cities around the world next year, helping local governments fight climate change. We chatted with city officials in Los Angeles, Louisville, Chicago, Austin and Miami to learn more about how they plan to use Tree Canopy insights to build thriving, sustainable cities in 2021 and beyond.

Los Angeles

An image showing tree canopy coverage in Los Angeles

Tree canopy coverage in Los Angeles

Los Angeles was the first city to pilot Tree Canopy Insights. Since then it’s become an essential part of the city’s goal to increase tree canopy coverage by 50% by 2028 in areas of the city with the highest need. The city is working to plant 90,000 trees this year, and Tree Canopy Insights helps them prioritize which neighborhoods need tree shade the most.Rachel Malarich, Los Angeles’ City Forest Officer, and her team use Tree Canopy Insights alongside their inventory system to look at canopy acreage projections, current canopy cover and temperatures. The land use types within the tool allows them to consider the type of outreach needed and opportunities that exist in a given neighborhood. Most importantly, it helps Rachel and her team know which program initiatives are working and which aren’t.

“Tree Canopy Insights’ ability to give us timely feedback allows me to have data to make arguments for changes to the City's policies and procedures, as well as  potentially see the impact of different outreach activities going forward.” - Rachel Malarich, Los Angeles City Forest Officer


An image showing tree canopy coverage in Louisville

Tree canopy coverage in Louisville

Similar to other cities, Louisville officials found that monitoring tree coverage on their own was hugely expensive and time intensive. Sometimes it took years to get the accurate, up-to-date data needed to make decisions. 

With Tree Canopy Insights, they’ve been able to glean actionable insights about tree cover faster. In just a few weeks, they’ve pinpointed that the west side of town was losing tree shade at an unprecedented rate and jump started a plan to plant more trees in the area. 

“Planting trees is one of the simplest ways we can reduce the impacts and slow the progress of climate change on our city. With support from Google’s Tree Canopy Insights, Louisville can enhance its ongoing surveillance of hot spots and heat islands and understand the impact of land use and development patterns on tree canopy coverage.“ – Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer


An image showing tree canopy coverage in Austin

Tree canopy coverage in Austin

Austin’s summers are hot with the heat regularly reaching over 90 degrees. Using Tree Canopy Insights, Marc Coudert, an environmental program manager for the city, noticed a troubling trend: ambient temperatures were higher in the eastern part of the city, known as the Eastern Crescent. With these insights, Marc and the City’s forestry team developed Austin’s Community Tree Priority Map and doubled down on planting trees in neighborhoods in the Eastern Crescent to make sure there was equitable tree canopy coverage across the city. 

“At the city of Austin, we’re committed to making data-backed decisions that bring equity to all of our communities. Google’s Tree Canopy Insights empowers us to do exactly that.” - Austin Mayor Steve Adler


An image showing tree canopy coverage in Chicago

Tree canopy coverage in Chicago

Chicago’s Department of Public Health understands that planting trees is an essential part of promoting health and racial equity. After all, a lack of trees can be associated with chronic diseases like asthma, heart disease and mental health conditions. With Tree Canopy Insights, the department discovered that their hottest neighborhoods are often also the most disadvantaged — making these communities extremely vulnerable. With the use of this tool, the City of Chicago is committed to focusing their tree planting efforts specifically on these high-risk areas. 

"Trees not only provide our city with shade, green spaces and beauty, but they are also precious resources that produce clean air — making them key to shaping our sustainable future. Through this partnership with Google, our sustainability and public health teams will have access to real-time insights on our tree coverage that will inform how we develop and execute our equitable approach to building a better Chicago landscape. I look forward to seeing how this technology uses our city's natural resources to benefit all of our residents."  - Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot.


An image showing tree canopy coverage in Miami

Tree canopy coverage in Miami

Miami gets over 60 inches of rain per year, leading to potentially devastating effects from flooding and infrastructure damage. To address this, the city recently launched their Stormwater Master Plan. The multi-year initiative has already resulted in over 4,000 trees planted, translating to an additional 400,000 gallons of water absorption capacity per day. Moving forward, the city plans to use Tree Canopy Insights to evolve and improve this plan.

“Google’s Tree Canopy Insights is going to help us build on the progress of our Stormwater Master Plan in smarter, more effective ways. We believe that every city needs to be a “tech city,” and leveraging Google’s AI capabilities to improve every Miamians quality of life is exactly what I mean by that.” – Miami Mayor Francis Suarez

If you’re part of a local government and think Tree Canopy Insights could help your community, please get in touch with our team by filling out this form.
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How AI is making information more useful

by Prabhakar Raghavan on Sep.30, 2021, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

Today, there’s more information accessible at people’s fingertips than at any point in human history. And advances in artificial intelligence will radically transform the way we use that information, with the ability to uncover new insights that can help us both in our daily lives and in the ways we are able to tackle complex global challenges.

At our Search On livestream event today, we shared how we’re bringing the latest in AI to Google’s products, giving people new ways to search and explore information in more natural and intuitive ways.

Making multimodal search possible with MUM

Earlier this year at Google I/O, we announced we’ve reached a critical milestone for understanding information with Multitask Unified Model, or MUM for short.

We’ve been experimenting with using MUM’s capabilities to make our products more helpful and enable entirely new ways to search. Today, we’re sharing an early look at what will be possible with MUM. 

In the coming months, we’ll introduce a new way to search visually, with the ability to ask questions about what you see. Here are a couple of examples of what will be possible with MUM.

Animated GIF showing how you can tap on the Lens icon when you’re looking at a picture of a shirt, and ask Google to find you the same pattern — but on another article of clothing, like socks.

With this new capability, you can tap on the Lens icon when you’re looking at a picture of a shirt, and ask Google to find you the same pattern — but on another article of clothing, like socks. This helps when you’re looking for something that might be difficult to describe accurately with words alone. You could type “white floral Victorian socks,” but you might not find the exact pattern you’re looking for. By combining images and text into a single query, we’re making it easier to search visually and express your questions in more natural ways.

Animated GIF showing the point-and-ask mode of searching that can make it easier to find the exact moment in a video that can help you with instructions on fixing your bike.

Some questions are even trickier: Your bike has a broken thingamajig, and you need some guidance on how to fix it. Instead of poring over catalogs of parts and then looking for a tutorial, the point-and-ask mode of searching will make it easier to find the exact moment in a video that can help.

Helping you explore with a redesigned Search page

We’re also announcing how we’re applying AI advances like MUM to redesign Google Search. These new features are the latest steps we’re taking to make searching more natural and intuitive.

First, we’re making it easier to explore and understand new topics with “Things to know.” Let’s say you want to decorate your apartment, and you’re interested in learning more about creating acrylic paintings.

The search results page for the query “acrylic painting” that scrolls to a new feature called “Things to know”, which lists out various aspects of the topic like, “step by step”, “styles” and “using household items."

If you search for “acrylic painting,” Google understands how people typically explore this topic, and shows the aspects people are likely to look at first. For example, we can identify more than 350 topics related to acrylic painting, and help you find the right path to take.

We’ll be launching this feature in the coming months. In the future, MUM will unlock deeper insights you might not have known to search for — like “how to make acrylic paintings with household items” — and connect you with content on the web that you wouldn’t have otherwise found.

Two phone screens side by side highlight a set of queries and tappable features that allow you to refine to more specific searches for acrylic painting or broaden to concepts like famous painters.

Second, to help you further explore ideas, we’re making it easy to zoom in and out of a topic with new features to refine and broaden searches. 

In this case, you can learn more about specific techniques, like puddle pouring, or art classes you can take. You can also broaden your search to see other related topics, like other painting methods and famous painters. These features will launch in the coming months.

A scrolling results page for the query “pour painting ideas” that shows results with bold images and video thumbnails.

Third, we’re making it easier to find visual inspiration with a newly designed, browsable results page. If puddle pouring caught your eye, just search for “pour painting ideas" to see a visually rich page full of ideas from across the web, with articles, images, videos and more that you can easily scroll through. 

This new visual results page is designed for searches that are looking for inspiration, like “Halloween decorating ideas” or “indoor vertical garden ideas,” and you can try it today.

Get more from videos

We already use advanced AI systems to identify key moments in videos, like the winning shot in a basketball game, or steps in a recipe. Today, we’re taking this a step further, introducing a new experience that identifies related topics in a video, with links to easily dig deeper and learn more. 

Using MUM, we can even show related topics that aren’t explicitly mentioned in the video, based on our advanced understanding of information in the video. In this example, while the video doesn’t say the words “macaroni penguin’s life story,” our systems understand that topics contained in the video relate to this topic, like how macaroni penguins find their family members and navigate predators. The first version of this feature will roll out in the coming weeks, and we’ll add more visual enhancements in the coming months.

Across all these MUM experiences, we look forward to helping people discover more web pages, videos, images and ideas that they may not have come across or otherwise searched for. 

A more helpful Google

The updates we’re announcing today don’t end with MUM, though. We’re also making it easier to shop from the widest range of merchants, big and small, no matter what you’re looking for. And we’re helping people better evaluate the credibility of information they find online. Plus, for the moments that matter most, we’re finding new ways to help people get access to information and insights. 

All this work not only helps people around the world, but creators, publishers and businesses as well.  Every day, we send visitors to well over 100 million different websites, and every month, Google connects people with more than 120 million businesses that don't have websites, by enabling phone calls, driving directions and local foot traffic.

As we continue to build more useful products and push the boundaries of what it means to search, we look forward to helping people find the answers they’re looking for, and inspiring more questions along the way.

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New ways maps and AI keep communities safe and informed

by Rebecca Moore on Sep.30, 2021, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

With Google’s AI technology and mapping information, people and organizations all over the world can access helpful, reliable information needed to make progress toward tackling global challenges like climate change. At Search On today, we’re sharing new mapping features that help keep communities safer, more sustainable, and discoverable — no matter where they are in the world. 

Introducing the wildfire layer on Google Maps

With climate change, wildfires are growing increasingly more common in many parts of the world. Last year, we launched a wildfire boundary map powered by satellite data to help people in the U.S. easily understand the approximate size and location of a fire — right from their device. 

Building on this, we’re now bringing all of Google’s wildfire information together and launching it globally with a new layer on Google Maps. With the wildfire layer, you can get up-to-date details about multiple fires at once, allowing you to make quick, informed decisions during times of emergency. Just tap on a fire to see available links to resources from local governments, such as emergency websites, phone numbers for help and information, and evacuation details. When available, you can also see important details about the fire, such as its containment, how many acres have burned, and when all this information was last reported. 

The wildfires layer 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. In the U.S., the layer will expand to include more fires thanks to data from the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC). We plan to expand this level of detail to more countries, starting with Australia, in the coming months. 

A gif showing the wildfire layer in Google Maps

See critical, up-to-date information with the new wildfire layer on Google Maps

Tree Canopy Insights expands to 100 new cities 

Cities around the world have told us that it can be difficult to set concrete climate action goals when they don’t have access to reliable, trusted information. That’s why in 2022, we’ll expand the Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE) Tree Canopy tool from 15 U.S. cities to over 100 new cities around the globe in places like Guadalajara, London, Sydney and Toronto.

Our Tree Canopy Insights 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. 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.

First piloted in Los Angeles, Tree Canopy data has become a critical piece of the city’s long-term goal to increase tree shade by at least 50% by 2028. Learn more about how other local governments plan to use Tree Canopy Lab data this year. 

a gif showing tree canopy coverage in Los Angeles

Tree Canopy Coverage in Los Angeles

Assigning addresses at scale with the new Address Maker app

In addition to helping cities with environmental initiatives, we’re helping governments and NGOs provide addresses to people and businesses around the world. Several billion people still don’t have an address, making it difficult to do things many people take for granted, like voting, opening a bank account, applying for a job, or simply getting a package delivered. With our new free Address Maker app, these organizations can now use our open-source system called Plus Codes to create unique, functioning addresses at scale, right from an Android app.

A gif showing how to create Plus Code addresses using Address Maker

Creating Plus Code addresses using Address Maker

Previously, creating addresses for an entire town or village could take years.Address Maker shortens this time to as little as a few weeks — helping under-addressed communities get on the map quickly, while also reducing costs. 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. Governments and NGOs in The Gambia, Kenya, India, South Africa and the U.S. are already using Address Maker, with more partners on the way. If you’re part of a local government or NGO and think Address Maker could help your community, reach out to us here

A video describing how Address Maker is helping to create Plus Code addresses in Sub-Saharan Africa

Giving people access to useful, actionable information that can drive change is core to Google. To learn about more ways we’re using technology to help people solve problems, see what else we announced at Search On.

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