Article by Justine Calma: “Google unveiled a tool today that could help cities keep their residents cool by mapping out where trees are needed most. Cities tend to be warmer than surrounding areas because buildings and asphalt trap heat. An easy way to cool metropolitan areas down is to plant more trees in neighborhoods where they’re sparse.
Google’s new Tree Canopy Lab uses aerial imagery and Google’s AI to figure out where every tree is in a city. Tree Canopy Lab puts that information on an interactive map along with additional data on which neighborhoods are more densely populated and are more vulnerable to high temperatures. The hope is that planting new trees in these areas could help cities adapt to a warming world and save lives during heat waves.
Google piloted Tree Canopy Lab in Los Angeles. Data on hundreds more cities is on the way, the company says. City planners interested in using the tool in the future can reach out to Google through a form it posted along with today’s announcement.
“We’ll be able to really home in on where the best strategic investment will be in terms of addressing that urban heat,” says Rachel Malarich, Los Angeles’ first city forest officer.
Google claims that its new tool can save cities like Los Angeles time when it comes to taking inventory of their trees. That’s often done by sending people to survey each block. Los Angeles has also used LIDAR technology to map their urban forest in the past, which uses a laser sensor to detect the trees — but that process was expensive and slow, according to Malarich. Google’s new service, on the other hand, is free to use and will be updated regularly using images the company already takes by plane for Google Maps….(More)”.