A new tool using data from Google Maps can calculate a city’s emissions from transportation and buildings, rooftop solar energy potential and even NASA climate forecasts. Its aim is to help cities identify reduction opportunities.
Search engine giant Google has teamed up with the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy to develop Environmental Insights Explorer. Currently in beta version, the new tool harnesses the massive amounts of data that Google is sitting on to estimate a city’s carbon footprint and help cities develop informed climate action plans.
“This is looking at the thousands of cities that are out there today that don’t typically have the resources to spend on digging up the data or analysing the data,” Nicole Lombardo at Google’s Environmental Insights team is quoted in a Fast Company article.
“This tool helps to do some of that and reduce some of the complexities and the cost in that process, so you have more people spending less time data gathering and data crunching and more on the action planning.”
According to the article, the tool uses Google Maps data to infer whether a building is residential or non-residential and then forecast how much energy that building uses as well as the emissions of that energy use. Location data from Google Maps allows the tool to estimate traffic and modes of travel and then extrapolate the emissions from that transportation.
The tool even integrates Google’s Project Sunroof, which estimates a building’s technical solar potential, to help cities move away from fossil fuel electricity generation. NASA climate projections, which are integrated into Google’s Earth Engine, are used to identify future weather conditions and how these could impact a city’s greenhouse gas emissions.
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