At an AI-focused press event today in New York, Google announced that it’s bringing its AI-powered wildfire detection system to the U.S. Canada, Mexico and parts of Australia. It’s one of several “AI for good” efforts the company detailed this morning, which also included Google’s efforts to expand flood forecasting to more regions around the world.
The previously announced system utilizes machine learning models trained on satellite data to track fires in real-time and predict how it will spread. The feature is initially focused on helping first responders determine how best to control the fire.
This time last year, Google announced that the technology was being added as a layer in Google Maps. The company noted at the time,
[W]e’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 feature joins a similar ML-based flood forecasting feature announced back in 2018. That feature is now being expanded to an additional 18 countries.