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#38 Google Maps can now calculate the carbon footprint of an entire city

Google Maps is probably one of the best navigation apps to have installed on your smartphone and Google keeps rolling out new features meant to help you get to your destination faster, and discover new things along the way. But it turns out that Google Maps may have an even cooler feature, one that will help you save the environment without requiring anything from you.

Google is harnessing plenty of data from Google Maps, and you should already know that. Tracking your location is how the app works and how it gets better. But Google is now able to combine the traffic data it collects with aerial photography of cities and other parameters to determine the carbon footprint of a city.

The Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE) is a tool launched in beta on September 10th that’s meant to help cities lower their total carbon footprint.

The tool can tell apart residential homes from businesses and estimate how much energy they use and the corresponding emissions. By looking at traffic, Google can estimate emissions from transportation habits as well. And data from Google’s Project Sunroof will tell residents and city officials what roofs should be fitted with solar panels.

Cities using EIE findings would then be able to lower their total emissions by making various changes, such as incentivizing people to install solar roofs or introducing more transportation options that would lower traffic and reduce pollution. And they’d have access to all that data without having to invest in collecting all the data themselves:

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