How green is your city?
We unlock valuable insights about the quality of urban green space by combining machine learning and image processing algorithms on high resolution satellite imagery.
Empowering local communities to improve quality over quantity.
Greenery is the keystone to mental and physical wellbeing and offers vital ecosystem services. The challenges of rapid urbanisation can easily be addressed by adding green space in cities, but quantity does not necessarily translate to quality. Green City Watch will emphasise greenery quality to take advantage of all potential benefits and illustrate the opportunity costs of substandard green space.
Urban green space is the backbone of a sustainable city and a widely cited indicator to assess urban environments.
To test our pilot tool, we selected four preliminary case studies. The chosen cities differ with respect to political, social, and environmental pressures. The four cities listed below are subject to such pressures across both hemispheres. Our aim is to validate that our methodology for assessing the quality of green space can be utilized and upscaled across varying landscapes.
The urban fabric of Amsterdam is highly regarded. The city is mostly under sea level and as such, built largely on wooden poles. Having dealt with flood risk since its conception, Amsterdam has become a global leader in sustainable water management. Despite being the capital of Europe's densest country, Amsterdam hosts less than a million residents. Often touted as one of Europe's greenest cities, Green City Watch will validate this claim using the urban green classification index and analysis tool.
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States and the biggest without a formal zoning code. Experts believe the lack of regulation, building in the federally designated flood area, and paving over wetlands are partly to blame for the severity of last summer's Hurricane Harvey. Had Houston preserved more of its green space, perhaps there would have been less damage. Green City Watch is curious to assess the current quality of the city's green space, especially in light of the recent flooding events.
Rio de Janeiro
The Amazon rainforest, located mainly in Brazil, is the world’s largest tropical rainforest and famed for its biodiversity. And even though Rio de Janeiro is still 3000 km from Amazonia, one might assume the city hosts some of the world's most biodiverse urban green spaces. Unfortunately, most were demolished in Rio's rapid urban development. Today the city is home to six million people, with nearly 25% of its population living in favelas (Brazilian slums). Green City Watch hopes to reveal where urban green space restoration is most desperately needed in Rio.
When measured up against other large cities, Tokyo comes up short when it comes to green space. The amount of green space per capita in this city is drastically lower than what is suggested by the World Health Organization. Japan, on the other hand, is famous for its national public health program called forest bathing—basically just being in the presence of trees—which has been proven to boast health and wellbeing. Now, Green City Watch wants to bring high quality urban green space back into Tokyo's dense core for the benefit of all its citizens.
Green City Watch thinks just assessing the quantity of urban green space in cities is insufficient, so we're using geospatial big data to inform citymakers on the quality of critical green space. Join us!
GGCW is founded by earth science nerds who believe big data is the key to greener cities.
Nadine Galle, Classification Indexer
is pursuing her PhD in ecological engineering at University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin. Nadine believes cities need to be rapidly renatured and thinks the novel application of high resolution satellite imagery can get us there.
Jim Groot, GIS Ninja
is an Earth Sciences master student at the University of Amsterdam. He has a broad interest in current and future applications of remote sensing data to tackle global challenges. Jim joined GGCW because he loves satellites and big data.
Anjelika Romeo-Hall, SDG Enthusiast
holds degrees in Natural Resources Management and Earth Sciences. As an advisor at Ernst & Young, she helps stakeholders realise innovative solutions for sustainable urban development. At GGCW, Anjelika aligns our mission with the SDGs.
Emiel van Loon, Statistical Ecologist
is an assistant professor at the University of Amsterdam. When he's not building agent-based models or developing new statistical techniques, he offers the GGCW team key insights on how to apply statistics to ecology and back again.
Stella Balikci, Ground Truther
holds a bachelors in Human Geography and Urban Planning from the University of Amsterdam. Currently, she is pursuing a research master in Urban Studies at the same university. Stella specialises in environmental planning and policy.