How digital technology can help keep cities green and pleasant

How digital technology can help keep cities green and pleasant

  • Technology
  • May 26, 2022
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  • 9 minutes read

How digital technology can help keep cities green and pleasant

Credit: Preechar Bowonkitwanchai / shutterstock

Parks, small forests and even simple patches of grass not only maintain an attractive city, but also help people find a sense of happiness in an otherwise bustling urban setting. With new technologies we can plan and control these urban “green spaces” better than ever.

As several studies have shown, nature in urban environments plays a key role in combating many of the global public health challenges commonly associated with urbanization. This includes diseases such as depression and high blood pressure. A 2022 study showed that trees really have the ability to improve urban air quality, as pine leaves and needles capture air pollutants.

Therefore, the need for green spaces in cities is not a particularly controversial issue. However, it is an open question of how much green space a city should have. Even here, science can provide some guidelines, as research points to at least 9 square meters of green space per individual, with an ideal value of 50 square meters per capita in a city (in comparison, a square of average parking in the UK occupies approximately). 12 square meters).

Green landscaping

So the big question is, what kind of green space do we want? A well-kept but man-made park? Or something more natural and sloppy, such as groves, meadows or countryside? As we discuss in our next book, Designing Smart and Resilient Cities for a Post-Pandemic World: Metropolitan Revolution, this largely depends on the pre-geographic conditions of the city in question. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a diversity of different types of green areas if possible, but it is an inescapable fact that some cities have lush vegetation while others do not.

How digital technology can help keep cities green and pleasant

Small parks for everyone? Credit: Sahara Prince / shutterstock

However, not all is lost for cities without much natural green space, as these environments can be built in urban environments that had previously been devoid of naturally growing trees and grasses. This “green landscape” can be carried out even in areas that would otherwise seem unlikely. A good example is the New York City High Line, a 1.45 mile (2.33 km) long linear park built on an abandoned railroad viaduct. Since it opened in stages about a decade ago, High Line has become an example of redesigning the green landscape that seeks to turn obsolete infrastructure into vibrant green public spaces.

While green is known to have positive effects on humanity in general, it is more difficult to demonstrate the exact causal relationship of exactly how green areas affect our health. In this sense, digital technology can be an essential tool for urban planners to determine where to best use green landscape redesign.

How digital technology can help keep cities green and pleasant

All aboard the High Line. Credit: Massimo Salesi / shutterstock

Smart technology

One concept that is experiencing particularly rapid development is “smart urban forests,” which refers to the use of tree monitors, 3D imaging, and other Internet-related technologies to help manage the forest. . This “nature internet” could monitor soil health, measure air pollution, or make sure urban forests are properly hydrated.

Future technology could also allow for the use of open data platforms and more public involvement. Planners could gather various perspectives from the general population through an application, for example, while using digital technology to map and enhance urban biodiversity and ensure that green areas are placed where they will achieve maximum efficiency.

An example of this is the Treepedia Research Initiative, which was launched in 2016 by the Massachusetts-based MIT Senseable City Lab. Treepedia aims to raise awareness of urban forests through the use of Google Street View image-based digital vision techniques.

Com la tecnologia digital pot ajudar a mantenir les ciutats verdes i agradables

Treepedia calculates how many tree tops are visible at various points in Google Street View. Credit: Treepedia, CC BY-SA

Treepedia focuses on trees in pedestrian streets found in various cities around the world, unlike parks. The main reason is that pedestrians are more likely to see trees on the street unplanned, while most people in the parks actively decided to be there. Using an open source library, Treepedia means that the public can calculate the amount of tree cover for their own city or region.

If urban planners become more aware of the potential of digital technology, urban green spaces should have a bright future. However, designing the optimal green space we want for our cities may also require deeper future collaboration between planners and engineers.

Improvement of town planning with Superblocks

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