As we approach Summer and all the outdoor activities that entails this year, Google has added a new tool – Air Quality Layers in Google Maps and as a result in Search – to help you plan your outdoor activities safely.

The new Air Quality layer in Maps adds the “Air Quality Index (AQI) or AQC (Air Quality Categories)’ as a layer option, right next to the Bushfire layer introduced in Maps by Google late last year. The advice shown in cards gives information and “measures of how healthy (or unhealthy) the air is, in an accessible, visual way – along with guidance for outdoor activities, when the information was last updated, and links to learn more” says Can Comertoglu Product Manager, Google Maps.

The Air Quality data and health advice is being supplied by the various agencies in all states and territories around Australia. Mark Taylor, EPA Victoria’s Chief Environmental Scientist Professor said

“EPA Victoria’s air monitoring provides important data and health information to the community through our AirWatch website.  We welcome the opportunity provided by Google to have our information shared with even more people across the state”.

To access the new Air Quality results, you can simply open Maps and add the layer, or jump into search and check a location near you such as ‘Air Quality Melbourne”. 

The addition of Air Quality data is an excellent move, given the amount of searches for Air Quality data performed during the 2020 bush fires.

In the US, Google has even added the Air Quality Index (AQI) to the home screen of their Nest Hub smart displays right next to the weather – perhaps this is the precursor to that functionality showing up on our smart displays here in Australia.