This new partnership is mapping out gas leaks in American cities

As major methane emitters, gas leaks are dangerous for human health and the environment, but detecting them is not always easy. This is why the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Google Earth have teamed up to seek out leaks more efficiently. 

EDF and the Google Earth Outreach Team joined forces to equip Google Street View cars with sensors to detect potential leaks. The team drove around major cities and were able to create detailed maps about where natural gas was leaking into the air from utility pipes and under city streets. 

Unfortunately, the team found that there is no shortage of leaks in American cities. Boston, Massachusetts, a city with particularly old infrastructure, had a leak every mile, and Birmingham, Alabama averaged a leak every two miles. Indianapolis, Indiana however ranked among the most natural gas safe cities with 200 miles between leaks.  

The team’s discoveries are being shared with local utilities and regulators so that resources can be prioritized to fix them. This partnership between a nonprofit and a major company demonstrates how strategic collaborations can result in innovative public health measures. It also calls attention to how we can overhaul our heating systems to be more efficient and environmentally-friendly with ground pumps and all-electric homes

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