Google is adding a new feature to Google Maps in the US - an air quality layer. This feature is going to be available on both Android and iOS and will give users an idea about how the air quality is around them with classifications such as - smoggy, smoky, bad, or wonderful, perhaps.
The idea is to better inform users about whether it is ok to step out or just stay in for the day. And if it is ok to go out, how long are those good conditions going to sustain. What Google Maps will show is the Air Quality Index or AQI, along with outdoor activity guidance and when the information that you are currently looking at was last updated. The information will also furnish links to help users learn more.
Google is going to show data from trusted government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the US. It is also going to show information from PurpleAir which is a low-cost sensor network that gives a hyper-local view of conditions.
Users can add this air quality layer to Google Maps by tapping on the button on the top right-hand corner of the phone screen and selecting Air Quality under Map details. Information from PurpleAir can also be accessed on Google Nest and other speakers.
Google also has a wildfire layer available in the US since wildfire season is approaching. This layer shows details about active fires in the area and the data comes from the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC). Users can also type in “wildfires near me” in search to access details along with air quality information.
Additionally, Google is also going to add smoke data across the US in a partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This will be added in a few months’ time.
Google has not mentioned if it plans to roll out this air quality feature in other countries as well. For now, all others, including us in India, will just have to open our windows to check.
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