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New York gets to the “root” of data visualisation for trees and the environment


Every now and again we come across a great representation of the use of data and data visualisation and the New York City Street Tree Map is an excellent example.

Described as the world’s most accurate and detailed map of a city’s street trees, The New York City Street Tree Map brings New York City’s urban forest to your fingertips. For the first time, you have access to information about every street tree in New York City.  It allows users to learn about the trees that make up the city’s urban forest, mark trees as favourites, share them with friends, and record and share caretaking and tree stewardship activities.

NYC Street Tree Map Screen Shot

Information for the street tree map was gathered with the help of thousands of volunteers through TreesCount! 2015, a citywide tree census. Volunteers used the TreeKIT mapping method to produce accurate measurements of NYC’s street trees, including identifications of species and tree diameter.

The data collected by volunteers is then used to calculate the benefits that each individual tree brings to the city. Trees can capture storm water run-off, reduce energy costs, and make the air less polluted and easier to breathe. They have calculated the benefits that each tree provides to the people of New York City based on a formula developed by the Center for Urban Forest Research. The benefits each tree provides varies based upon its species, size, and location.

In total, they have calculated that the street trees in the city provide the following benefits each year:

  • 1,096,021,237 gallons of stormwater intercepted each year –  Value: $10,850,604.76
  • 672,179,491 kWh of energy conserved each year – Value: $84,859,221.20
  • 641 tons of air pollutants removed each year – Value: $6,703,081.99
  • 623,404 tons of carbon dioxide reduced each year – Value: $4,164,310.02
  • Total value of annual benefits – $110,741,555.43

With all the current news in the media on the impact that cities have on the environment, it is encouraging to see it from another angle. Not only have the developers managed to visualise every tree’s contribution to reducing the impact on the environment, but with total benefits far exceeding 100 Million Dollars we believe that other cities around the world should “take a leaf” out of NYC’s book and start looking after their trees.

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