We all know what Google is, but do you know about their outreach program? Google Earth Outreach is Google’s way of contributing to, well, the Earth. The company has plenty of resources, and Google Earth Outreach is one way they share these resources. This can mean monetary donations, teaching people how to use their software, or offering their data and mapping tools to whoever needs them.
An interesting example of what Google Earth Outreach is all about can be seen in their work with researchers at Colorado State University. Beneath the more bustling cities of the United States, such as Boston or Chicago, is a curious problem. The pipes used for distributing natural gas are archaic. Some of these pipes were installed back in the 19th century, that’s how dated they are. Due to the extreme age of these pipes they are corroded and leaking. The solution isn’t as easy as just fixing the pipes either. The city of Chicago alone is 234 square miles of pure city. Pinpointing a leaky pipe in a city that large is no small feat.
Luckily, Google Street View Cars make for some very versatile automobiles. The previously mentioned researchers souped up these cars with some amazing sensing tech. Air is vacuumed up from the front bumper then pumped into a tube in the trunk. This tube of air is then hit with a pulse of infrared light. Greenhouse gases absorb infrared light, so this makes for a quick and neat way of measuring how much methane is stored. The amount of methane is determined by measuring the amount of infrared light that escapes the tube. Some complex computations are done using computers in the car to assign the data to specific GPS locations which are used to create a map of all the leaks.
It’s nice to see that Google is putting their money and resources into good causes. This isn’t all that the Google Earth Outreach program does either. They also have contributed to The Halo Trust and the Jane Goodall Institute along with many other projects around the world. If you’re ever curious about what the Google Earth Outreach program is up to just click here to check out their blog.