Cities have become large asphalt deserts that are gaining more and more ground from natural spaces, parks and gardens. Google wants to restore greenery to reduce the climate impact on cities.
The facades, the sidewalks, the asphalt of the roads, everything contributes to increasing in the temperature of urban centers. These gray meadows are the worst place for a heatwave in summer and the freezing cold of winter is also harsh. A problem that could solve the return of vegetation.
With its new tool, Tree Canopy Lab, Google wants cities to repopulate with plants, install new green areas, fill sidewalks with trees and shrubs that mitigate extreme temperatures and help slow the advance of climate change. And it’s going to start with the city of Los Angeles.
The internet giant assures that data from other metropolitan areas is ready to be published, but its first stop and the first wake-up call will be for the city of Los Angeles. ” We will be able to really identify where the best strategic investment will be in terms of addressing that urban heat, ” said Rachel Malarich, City of Los Angeles First Forest Officer.
In Tree Canopy, aerial images and artificial intelligence come together to locate those areas and neighborhoods that are most depopulated with vegetation and those most affected by the heat of a bare asphalt that absorbs all the sun. Those urban planners interested in improving cities can use this tool but must request access to Google using a form.
When cities wanted to make a register of their trees and the distribution of their green areas, the techniques available before Tree Canopy was to send workers to each area to make an inventory neighborhood by neighborhood. LIDAR technology has also been used to analyze the plant map of the city. Google’s tool could be a complement to these systems, the company ensures that its new tool can save cities time.
It will be available for free and the images will be updated periodically through the photographs taken from airplanes that Google already collects for another series of projects. Then, the artificial intelligence systems developed by the company are responsible for locating each of the trees that can be found on the streets, in public parks, private gardens, etc.
With this new feature, Google has found that more than half of Los Angeles residents live in places where trees shade less than 10% of their neighborhood . And 44% of Angelenos live in places with extreme heat risk. A phenomenon that kills more people each year than any other climate disaster in the United States. In Tree Canopy you can study both the position of the trees, as well as the neighborhoods most affected by that rise in temperatures to compare the relationship.