Northern California and Colorado have sparked a new feature on Google as a result of the wild fires and lightning storms that have recently engulfed the two states. Google will give real-time updates and information on the fires once they search on the Google map app and home search page.
More than 350 wildfires happened across Northern California this week. A state of emergency was declared by Governor Gavin Newsom as 26 cities required immediate response. Colorado was also hit at Pine Gulch which has become one of the largest in the history of the state. Several evacuations have also been carried out.
With experts predicting a continuation of the fires in August and September, Google is busy rolling out the pilot app to be available to the whole of USA. They will outline the boundaries of the fires and update on road blocks or closures.
The company is working in collaboration with NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration) who provide weather data. NOAA has satellites used to track weather patterns as well as provide images across the US. The fire detection program will refresh every 5 minutes therefore providing real-time updates. In as much as this might be such a long time for rapid fire outbreaks, it will definitely be helpful for slow-spreading fires. The app doesn’t provide predictive information as many would think but it’s in future plans as the features develop.
Google is also faced with another challenge as most of the fire outbreaks are in remote rural areas. Most of these areas do not have reliable cell service and might have roads that are not visible in the maps to begin with. It is advised that these people download offline maps. Another route google has used is to work with is the state officials to deploy some of Google’s employees in its state operation center.
Google added the emergency response information service about a decade ago. It has several features such as the SOS Alerts. This tech feature is now being used to send out COVID-19 alerts.