How Urban Forestry is Turning SmartUtilizing technology in order to improve the efficiency and capabilities of urban forestry is already well underway in the industry. Urban forestry is turning ‘smart’, and it’s important that Arboriculturalists, as well as business owners, be mindful of these changes to take full advantage of them.

Urban forestry turning smart will revolutionize your business processes through automation, precise GPS accuracy, and comprehensive software.

Smart Technology

You might be wondering what smart technology is. What’s it all about?

Smart technology uses AI, big data, and machine learning to provide cognitive awareness to objects that were in the past considered inanimate. The definition of ‘smart’ is “self monitoring, analysis, and reporting technology”.

A full overview of smart technology in the broader sense can be found here.

Smart technology offers much more data, in order to improve the efficiency of the cities in which they inhabit.

The possibilities and opportunities in smart technology are only continuing to grow as time goes on. Managing stormwater and assessing air quality to maximise the urban tree canopy is being performed by state-of-the-art technology, which you can read case studies about here.

By using smart technology with trees, you can get better traceability of them to better understand their earning model. Properties near trees tend to sell higher than those that aren’t, and being able to trace trees will help you to understand the specific amount of impact they’ve had over a property scale.

iTree is a web application that gives an economic value to a tree. There are multiple slightly differing tools under the ‘iTree’ umbrella which you can learn about here. iTree is a great application that is helping to lead the charge in turning urban forestry smart. By providing data using it’s peer reviewed software, it can help shed light on the importance of urban forests, their benefits, and their economic value when considered in a broader sense. Landscape architects and designers can use iTree Design to figure out the benefits of certain tree sizes and types, the tool can also be used to approximate the financial benefits lost when a tree dies.

Business and property owners with no particular interest or knowledge about urban forestry will understand numbers when provided to them. Tools like this help to get everyone on board with preserving, maintaining, and developing trees in cities; by translating the benefits of urban trees into quantifiable measures, such as financial benefits.

Trends, Technologies, and Turning Points

Trends, Technologies, and Turning PointsSmart technologies are already being utilized in environmental and resource management. As smart technology is a dynamic environment, the trends and turning points in these technologies continue to evolve and change.

AI is already being used to predict forest fires. Forest fires are a major threat to urban forests, and can quickly get out of hand, as we saw with the recent Australian wildfires. Predicting forest fires in this way can save a lot of time and financial repercussions, as well as save lives of animals inhabiting a forest.

Google Earth Engine has already been used to monitor, map, and analyze international forest changes. This geospatial software offers extraordinary amounts of data on the state of international forests, helping to paint the picture on where we’re at globally with green space compared to where we used to be, in order to inform what we need to do to improve green space in the future.

UAVs and drones help forest regeneration via surveying, fertilizer spraying, and precision aerial seeding. The use of drones and UAVs means a lot of ground (and trees) can be covered in a shorter space of time, without the need for manual labour. As flight paths become more automated in the future, this process will only continue to get easier.

Remote sensing technology and hyperspectral imagery maps and assesses the species and structure of individual trees. Assessing the species and structure of trees has long been a tree surveyor’s role, but this remote sensing technology will essentially help to automate this process, and free up arboriculturalists to focus on more pressing matters that can’t be automated.

Radio-frequency identification microchips have been proposed as a means to store and collect information about plant pathology, and share information via web-based platforms. This increase in data available will massively improve the knowledge we have about plant pathology, and keep it up-to-date, so that the data arboriculturalists have access to remains constantly relevant.

These are just some of the turning points in smart technology for urban forests, but they help to paint a picture of how smart technology is revolutionising the industry. Many cities are proposing Smart City Development, but there is a lack of acknowledgement of urban green space and forest management. It is important that governments make more of an effort to include urban forestry in their smart city considerations; as the benefits affect all residents.

There are two ‘themes’ for smart applications in urban forestry.

The first is the idea that digital technology can be used to improve the delivery of benefits provided by urban green infrastructure, whilst improving GIS tree mapping software. Wireless networks, high-powered sensors, and data loggers provide information in real-time about environmental parameters; as well as shedding light on the relationship between forest variables (biodiversity) and outcomes (public health).

The second is based on the potential for smart and data technologies to enable stakeholder participation and engagement; connecting citizens to nature in order to facilitate citizen empowerment in urban forest management. Cloud-based technologies as well as online platforms may allow for more effective collaboration between governments and sectors and promote government transparency.

In addition to these themes there are 5-Good Reasons to Use a  GIS


As the world turns its attention to smart technology, the possibilities in urban forestry only continue to grow. Utilizing smart technologies will help to prove empirically the benefits urban trees have on those living in cities where green space can be hard to find; as well as protecting the pre-existing trees of the world.

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