How Environmentally Friendly is Your City?
While cities around the world are recognizing the need for more green canopy cover, few are implementing tangible actions to resolve their issue. So to raise awareness regarding the lack of trees in cities, an MIT team formed a program that not only alerts but also compares tree coverage in 20 famous cities.
Treepedia is an online map website that was launched by MIT Senseable City Lab. According to Lauren Llyod, the platform measures cities' green canopies or the portion of trees and other vegetation that is visible above ground.
The MIT team behind the project chose to use Google Street View data instead of satellite images to measure tree coverage and create their "Green View Index" because according to the website, they believed the decision allowed researchers to view the human perception of the environment from the street level.
Users that visit Treepedia can view maps from the 20 cities that are currently included in the database. When reading the map, it's important to note that the green dots shown above represent substantial tree coverage, the brown dots are areas that have sparse green canopies and the darkened areas are ones that have not yet been mapped.
In addition to providing maps on the site, the team also stresses the benefits from trees such as shade in hot weather, cleaning the environment through reducing pollution, and increasing water evaporation.
So even though not all cities are included on Treepedia, the MIT team hopes that the maps that are currently on the site as well as their advocacy for trees, will ultimately encourage more urban tree coverage and increase the amount of trees in communities.