[Updated June 3rd 2022]
A topic that the focus might’ve steered a bit away from during the pandemic is the climate and the fact we right now should be doing all we can to prevent the climate from deteriorating faster than it is. We’re getting better, but there’s always room for improvement and it’s all about adjusting and implementing small changes to our routines that in the end will impact the larger picture.
To take another step towards becoming a greener choice, Google Maps last year announced that it later in 2021 would start introducing eco-friendly routes to generate the lowest carbon emissions based on traffic, slopes, and other factors. Unless the user manually opts out, Google Maps will suggest eco-friendly routes as the default choice. This could prove to increase the usage of the new feature as up to 95% of users never change the default settings of apps. In cases where the routes appear to increase the ETA significantly, Google Maps will instead let you choose between the routes.
This is good news for consumers, but businesses alike potentially could draw benefits from this feature. Many businesses want to do better for the environment, but for industries like delivery, it can be especially difficult. The new eco-friendly routes feature could thus allow businesses relying on transportation an opportunity to lessen their carbon footprints. Besides the actual act of changing to more environmentally friendly transportation, it also sends a strong message to consumers that the business takes responsibility for the climate - as it should be in everyone’s interest to do so, private individuals and businesses alike. Of course, companies that provide food delivery and ride services might sometimes find it necessary to pick the faster route over the eco-friendly route in case of significant differences in the ETA. This is something Google Maps, as previously mentioned, can solve by asking for the preferred route in cases of large differences in the ETA.
As of now, the feature has only been announced as an update to the Google Maps consumer app, and we’re still waiting to see if Google Maps will add the new feature to the Google Maps APIs as well. The first announcement from Google Maps stated that the feature would first and foremost be released in the USA but with Google I/O 2022, Google announced that the eco-friendly routes will be rolled out in Europe later this year.
Google itself estimates that the feature has saved more than half a million metric tons of carbon emissions, an equivalent of taking 100,000 cars off the roads. And with the European expansion, Google expects to double this by the end of 2022.
While waiting for more exciting sustainable updates to our favorite outdoor navigation application, we suggest you take a look at our Google Maps blog to find inspiration on other ways that Google Maps can benefit you and your business.