For our beta release, we tested on 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 utilised 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.