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August 20, 2020
Google will now use real-time satellite images from NOAA and its own Google Earth engine to update the boundaries of wildfires on its maps, and reroute any driving directions users need to maintain a safe distance around the fire zones.
Information on local fires, including government evacuation orders and local news reports, will also show up alongside the new maps when users search for the fires. With wildfire season already ravaging the U.S., Abby Browning, from the California governor's emergency services office, said on a call with reporters yesterday that the updates "couldn't have come at a better time."
For now the service will be limited to fires in the U.S., but Google said it could see expanding to the rest of the world in the future.
"2020 is a very weird year," Browning said. "We're all on edge, we don't know what tomorrow brings."
Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.
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