Mayor Eric Garcetti Wednesday announced a partnership with Google on a program that will track the city’s canopy density to show where more trees need to be planted, providing residents in those neighborhoods some badly needed relief from extreme heat.
“This is a powerful new tool, and we’re the first city in the country to do this,” Garcetti said. “The Tree Canopy Lab … makes it possible for us to quickly assess the areas of our city with the greatest population density and the fewest trees with the greatest heat.”
The tool uses infrared aerial imagery to show Los Angeles trees with local context, such as what percentage of a neighborhood has leafy coverage, an area’s population density, what areas are vulnerable to extreme heat and which neighborhood councils can help get new roots in the ground, according to Google.
Company representatives said they use imagery collected from planes during the spring, summer and fall seasons, as well as Google AI and Google Earth Engine’s data analysis to comprise the Tree Canopy Lab data.
This allows software to pinpoint all the trees in a city and measure their density.
A specialized tree detection algorithm is then used to automatically scan images to detect the presence of trees to map the average tree canopy coverage for a Los Angeles neighborhood.
“Our partnership with Google has been a long time coming, and we’re so excited that we have this resource for communities to be able to explore their neighborhoods, understand what the needs are and for us to be able to prioritize really quickly,” said Rachel Malarich, the Los Angeles city forest officer.
The Tree Canopy Lab can be accessed at insights.sustainability.google/labs/treecanopy. Garcetti said residents can find ways to partner with the city or order up to seven free trees by going to cityplants.org.