Google’s Street View is one of the most powerful tools from the company, it lets you see pictures of a certain neighborhood and move around as if you were walking in that area. Street View is available in several platforms like desktop browsers and it recently became available as a standalone app for mobile. In addition to letting users see how a particular fa§ade looks, the complex camera systems that make this possible have been traveling around various natural landscapes like the depths of the oceans as well as some historical places and landmarks around the world. Now, the tool is being used to highlight a very serious concern, the effects of climate change.
The COP21 conference is taking place this week in Paris to discuss that subject, and Google is showing in pictures how humanity and other factors have affected the environment, plus, some of the technology used for Street View is helping some organizations to track this changes. For example, the sea ice has been melting, directly affecting polar bears, so the portable camera system called Trekker was used by Polar Bears International to show these animals around Churchill, Manitoba, and this imagery is also been used for educational purposes. The Trekker was also used by The Nature Conservancy from California to show how plants are being affected by climate change, they are monitoring the health of blue oaks, as its population has been declining. The Brazilian organization Amazonas Sustainable Foundation has also used this technology to show how the Amazon forest looks like from otherwise inaccessible locations, so they can educate people about how to preserve it.
Street View cars are equipped with methane analyzers so that they can detect and map leaks of this chemical compound, this way, companies can repair or replace gas mains and service lines. Google partnered with Aclima so their cars can detect more pollutants like particulate matter, black carbon, and carbon dioxide, which are harmful for our health and the environment. These cars will be working on some California regions next year and this data could help scientists, the government, businesses and policy makers to take the appropriate measurements and informed decisions.