Develop the concept of networked, smart urban forests and use the tools to:
1) Study and understand the role of urban trees and vegetation in climate adaptation, human health and urban aesthetics;
2) Provide municipalities with economical and cost-cutting solutions for urban tree management and enhancement;
3) Engage citizens in both the use and stewardship of their urban forests.


• developing the computer vision tools to identify, quantify and track urban tree presence, distribution and health; Integrating and implementing sensors in urban infrastructure (e.g., street lights) in a cost effective and rapid fashion that is in correspondence with other project and research targets
• Developing applications, getting citizen engagement and uptake; get people to, both, see the value of and use the applications and data
• Overcoming impediments from local municipal regulations and permitting

Major Requirements:
• Develop and assemble multi-organizational and stakeholder project team
• Draft the project scope and identify the requirements, interests, investments, goals and deliverables of each team member
• Develop the project architecture and timeline
• Create the development teams for the project arms (tracking tree health, embedded sensors and heat islands) and develop the sensing networks
• Identify cities and areas for carrying out the pilot programs
• Design and roll out pilot; deploy sensor systems and pilot studies
• Gain stakeholder support and buy-in from the community; release online and mobile websites/apps

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):

• Achieve a 50% increase in the visits and citizen contributions to the existing smart forests app and visitation/use rates of the pilot green spaces and walkways by 25%
• 5 media publication mentions and/or public events within 1 year
• Establish benchmarks for heat island mitigation & air pollution reduction; achieve milestones for heat island reduction Establish benchmarks for air pollution removal by urban trees
• Reduce the cost of traditional urban tree surveying and health tracking by 50%

Measurement Methods:

• Measurement and tracking of website statistics
• Measurement of accuracy, total time and cost inputs of an automated tree health tracking system compared to current manual surveying methods
• Quantification & comparison of costs of heat island mitigation
• tracking the number of self-initiated uploads of urban tree data by public or municipalities; Number of requests by additional municipalities


• Requires interoperable GPS, street-level imaging and mapping, environmental sensors streaming both real-time data and for long term records, citizen-based apps and data uploading, social networking
• Establishes benchmarks and standards for mitigating heat islands, air pollution and other services by urban trees
• NYC and national forest ecosystem standards, metrics, and best practices

Replicability, Scalability, and Sustainability:

• Standardized processes and systems can be replicated and scaled up or down to multiple cities/communities. The programs are planned to be replicated in multiple cities (Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago)
• The program will have a generalized framework which can be adopted and supported by new cities/communities; specific silos or platforms can have their own business model to create sustainable revenues.

Project Impacts:

• Create data streams that drive both scientific research and community web-based applications
• Generate environmental data at high spatial and temporal resolution that can be used by government, academia and the public for modeling, design and decision making, healthy living; long term records
• Improve the quality of life and increase equality within cities
• Increase community engagement in urban forests and, by doing so, promote and increase healthy activities and living
• Mitigate urban heat islands and adapt to future climate change scenarios
• Provide cost-saving technologies to municipalities that make it easier to support and enhance tree and green space infrastructure
• Contribute to smart city infrastructure and development through networked sensory systems and open data

Demonstration/Deployment Phases:

Phase I Pilot/Demonstration June 2016:
• Pilot application of the tree mapping and health tracking systems
• Operational website and app for tree mapping and green walking route planner
• Deployment of networked sensing system for urban heat islands study
Phase II Deployment June 2017:
• Expand the automated mapping and health tracking system to a real-time working application operating at full extent of Camera’s fleet
• Integration of mobile sensing systems to generate additional data streams to measure heat island effects and interactions with trees
• Integrate the data streams, sensory tools and public participation to launch study on urban environmental perceptions and uses of public space

Team Information: Team Lead:
Ian Seiferling – [email protected]
Rich Hallett – [email protected]

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