Three new application programming interfaces (APIs) from Google Maps help developers map solar, air quality and pollen information. Google

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Google Maps is expanding with three new tools to help map rooftop solar potential, air quality and pollen. The tools utilize Google’s artificial intelligence, machine learning, environmental data and aerial imagery to provide more information on the environment.

The company first started its Project Sunroof in 2015 to estimate solar potential. On Aug. 28, Google announced a new Solar API that maps resources for detailed data on rooftop solar potential. The new tool will share the solar potential for over 320 million buildings in 40 countries, according to a company press release.

Google’s Solar API was trained to pull data on roof geometry, trees and shading from aerial imagery, in addition to other factors like weather patterns and energy costs. The tool shows users potential energy savings and is designed to make the process of solar panel installation quicker and easier.

“The Solar API is a key input — it instantly gives us the data we need to analyze rooftops to determine how much sunlight they get to create customer proposals within the same workflow,” said Walid Halty, co-founder and CEO of Mona Lee Solar, a solar installation company, in a statement. “By doing this remotely and instantly, we have greater cost savings and can provide a better customer experience, helping our business grow quickly in this space.” 

In addition to the Solar API, Google also announced Air Quality API, which provides in-depth air quality information to users. This project pulls from data sources including government monitoring stations, sensors, meteorological data, satellites, live traffic data and more to produce location-specific and highly detailed air quality information. 

The tool shows the air quality index (AQI), the dominant pollutant, hourly history of air quality in an area and even a breakdown of the major pollutants in an area. According to Google, this information can help users make decisions regarding their health, from determining when it’s safe to spend time outdoors to planning a travel route with the best air quality.

The company announced a third tool, Pollen API, which offers information on pollen count from top pollen sources. It relies on land cover, climatological data, annual pollen production for different plants and other data to determine pollen levels and risks. This could help the around 400 million people globally who have allergic rhinitis, according to the World Health Organization, and the 67 million adults in the U.S. who have seasonal allergies.

According to Google, these new tools can help developers and businesses plan sustainable solutions and help users lessen their environmental impact.

“Looking ahead, we aspire to drive both short-term progress and long-term breakthroughs. No company — no matter how ambitious — can solve a challenge as big as climate change alone,” wrote Saleem Van Groenou, product manager for Google Maps Platform. “One of the most powerful things we can do is build technology that allows us, our customers, and individuals around the world to take meaningful action. We’re optimistic about what’s possible with the Solar API and our suite of Environment APIs.”

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