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Google’s new tool to map where trees are needed most

Google’s new tool to map where trees are needed most.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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Google has launched a tool that uses Artificial Intelligence(AI) and aerial imaging to map tree canopy coverage in a city and plan future tree-planting projects accordingly.

Tree Canopy Lab is a part of Google’s Environmental Insights Explorer platform and Los Angeles is the first city where the project is piloted. The company said it plans to add data on hundreds more cities.

“Tree coverage varies across neighborhoods and developing an understanding of tree locations can inform and inspire action,” Google said in a blog post.

Google collects the aerial imagery primarily in the spring, summer and fall seasons, and includes an overlay of imported public data from external sources, such as heat risk data, population density data, land use data and neighbourhood boundary data.

To estimate tree canopy coverage, Google analyses the imagery with 3D digital surface models and generates a vegetation probability model. Any values above a certain threshold are classified as a tree canopy and using estimates generated by the model, overall coverage for each area is determined.

The tool puts the data collected via aerial imagery on a map with population of neighbourhood areas and their vulnerability to high temperatures. By clicking on an area on the map, viewers can learn about the tree coverage, average heat health index and average population density per area. They can also understand how heat and population density correlate with tree coverage and land type distribution across neighbourhoods.

The aim is to plant trees in areas that are more exposed to high temperatures and help cities reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality.

Google also posted a form for city planners to reach out to them in case individuals are interested to use the tool in the future

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2020 8:35:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/googles-new-tool-to-map-where-trees-are-needed-most/article33133020.ece

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