Boulder uses big data to monitor health of trees

Boulder uses big data to monitor health of trees

An underrated resource for cities, urban forests not only remove carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the atmosphere -- they also reduce storm water runoff and save energy by lowering local temperatures. And Boulder, Colo., is now using big data to better monitor its trees.

The move comes as part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) initiative. Boulder will team up with Trimble, one of more than 50 private, public, academic and non-profit organizations that are a part of 100RC, and use its eCognition software to map and analyze readily available aerial and satellite imagery of tree cover around the city. According to Next City, the software helps cities transform images into quantifiable, actionable information about land use that can be applied to enhance a city’s resilience building efforts.

With eCognition software, the city will be able to produce timely, accurate land use and mapping information for geographic information systems that will help city staff identify healthy or damaged canopy. This information will give officials in Boulder a baseline from which to judge the efficacy of conservation projects.

Trimble will assist with training and support of its eCognition system, but the plan is for Boulder to eventually use the system without assistance.

About the Author

Derek Major is a former reporter for GCN.

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