Communities facing extreme heat events have a new tool to help stay safe

Extreme heat is a major concern facing communities around the world due to climate change, but Google has developed a new tool to help keep the public informed of heat risks and resources.
John Loeffler
A sunrise over a hazy urban center
It's only going to get hotter out there


As the climate crisis continues to ravage many parts of the world with extreme heat events like last summer's heat wave in Europe and record high temperatures in the global south, Google is making it easier for the public to stay informed about heat risks and resources for how to mitigate their impact.

Google will now start integrating Extreme Heat warnings into search results, the company announced.

"Today, we’re sharing a set of initiatives focused on helping communities prepare for and adapt to the effects of rising heat," said Kate Brandt, Google's Chief Sustainability Officer, in a company blog post on March 29, 2023. "This includes new extreme heat alerts on Search to keep people safe and AI-powered tools to help communities handle hotter temperatures."

According to the company, extreme heat is responsible for nearly half a million deaths each year; a number that is only expected to increase in the years ahead. Understandably, people suffering in extreme heat conditions are more likely to search online for heat-related resources, something Google wants to prioritize and put the most pertinent information front and center.

What the new alerts will tell you

Communities facing extreme heat events have a new tool to help stay safe
Google Extreme Heat Alerts

The new alerts, which haven't been given a specific launch date, will be incorporated into search results when someone searches for extreme heat-related terms, like "heat wave" and similar.

"To surface authoritative and helpful information in these moments, we’re rolling out new extreme heat alerts in Search in the coming months," Brandt said. "When people search for information on extreme heat, they’ll see details on when a heat wave is predicted to start and end, tips on staying cool, and related health concerns to be aware of — all prominently displayed in Search results.

"To make sure the information is relevant and accurate, we’re working with the Global Heat Health Information Network," Brandt added.

It's not stated whether you need to have location services on to receive the notifications, but it would make sense that this would be required since location data is the only way Google could know from a simple search query that you are living in an area affected by an extreme heat event.

What else can we do to help mitigate extreme heat?

Communities facing extreme heat events have a new tool to help stay safe
Google Environmental Insights Explorer's Tree Canopy view of the city of Lisbon

In addition to the new alerts, Google is also working to expand its Environmental Insights Explorer, which is a tool that governments and community organizations can use to learn about climate-related risks as well as opportunities for mitigation.

One such example is Google's Tree Canopy view, which uses Google's satellite data and AI tools to identify tree cover, a natural and effective way to reduce the number and intensity of "heat islands" in a city produced by buildings and roads that absorb a greater amount of heat from the sun than the surrounding environment.

This tool can serve as a crucial aid for city planners when developing parks and tree cover to identify areas most in need.

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