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Chicago creates digital map to achieve equality among its citizens

9 minute read
To meet the standards of equity and equal benefits of tree cover, The US city of Chicago has launched a project to plant tens of thousands of trees after creating a geospatial data map to select the least privileged sites and compensate for their environmental and health impacts.
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To meet the standards of equity and equal benefits of tree cover, The US city of Chicago has launched a project to plant tens of thousands of trees after creating a geospatial data map to select the least privileged sites and compensate for their environmental and health impacts.

It may be obvious to most of us that trees and their shade play in urban spaces in providing fresh air and shelter for many living creatures and shade that protects them from heat and gives them a moderate living environment.

With climate change, Every year, the world is witnessing unprecedented temperatures. A phenomenon that is most evident in cities whose urban infrastructure is expanding, including buildings, roads, bridges and tunnels, at the expense of their vegetation cover and natural environmental composition. While cities generally care about water and air quality, They don't pay as much attention to trees, This is confirmed by global statistics that have observed a decrease in the global average of urban tree cover during the last five years by nearly 40,000 hectares.

It didn't stop there, The proportions of this cover often vary from region to region. In the American city of Chicago, Trees cover 16% of the urban area, But this ratio is not equitably distributed, While in some neighborhoods it is 46%, In others, it may not exceed 10%.

These figures show stark disparities in air quality, temperatures, flood rates and the health of the population. The data indicate that historically marginalized communities and areas that have experienced high industrial intensity over the past century have been characterized by limited vegetation cover. It also contained higher concentrations of air-polluting particulate matter, as well as higher temperatures during the summer and higher levels of health problems. Especially chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma.

To approach this challenge, The Chicago Department of Public Health has collaborated with the City University and several local nonprofits and community foundations to develop a plan to achieve environmental justice, It allocated $ 46 million to plant 75,000 trees within 5 years. Within a project that focuses on underserved communities.

The team worked on developing an advanced mapping and positioning tool for planting trees that would achieve maximum environmental benefit in the long term. The main objective of the project was to create a central platform that would provide a wide range of different data sources, analysis of complex geospatial data, To make them understandable outputs for those interested, decision-makers and non-specialized stakeholders.

To do this, The team used several techniques such as a light-based rangefinder (lidar) to collect data on the trees themselves and their environmental impact. In addition to external data related to the population structure and transport system, The CDC also contributed data on the general health status, NASA provided data on surface temperatures in the areas studied.

The data collected showed that temperatures drop as the distance approaches the city lake. Neighborhoods adjacent to interstate highways recorded higher temperatures associated with heavy and round-the-clock traffic. The map also provided other information such as the locations of schools near the mentioned highways, Children are exposed to higher levels of pollution.

The user interface is programmed to supply data for each individual element, and to extract the correlations between environmental and social factors, And you reach accurate results.

After completing the map, Not only did its developers share it with decision-makers who will build visions for future urban planning, Rather, they created a free, open source version available online to enable researchers and laypeople to explore the city's environment and compare its neighborhoods and streets.

The City of Chicago has allocated $188 million to meet its commitments to protect the environment and address climate change. In conjunction with many projects taking place in other US cities and states, As in the case of Columbus, Ohio, It announced a plan to spend $1.45 million to expand vegetation by 40 percent by 2050.

While this project aims to achieve equality between communities, The very nature of these societies can be a major challenge. Some population groups see the intensification of vegetation cover as a radical change in the usual shape and character of neighborhoods, Others see tree-planting activities as a prelude to undesirable cultural, social and economic changes.

Because social challenges require careful and long-term solutions, The city authorities have decided that tree planting initiatives will take on a community character. That is, it is done in partnership with local communities, After exploring her concerns and building her awareness of the environmental and health benefits of these efforts.

By providing comprehensive and accurate data, The project plays an important role in policy-making, urban planning and environmental protection, We can liken trees to natural cooling systems, They reduce the effect of heat islands, Reduce energy consumption, produces oxygen, and purify the atmosphere, promotes health and physical activity, It establishes a better quality of life for city dwellers to give them sustainable development.



https://centered.tech/2021/12/02/chicagos-new-tree-equity-tool-pinpoints-greenery-needs-to-fight-climate-change /



https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/06/cities-urban-trees-climate-change /

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