NYC Pollen Scape

The impact of urban street tree species on air quality and respiratory illness: A spatial analysis of large-scale, high-resolution urban data.

This research measures localized environmental health impact of 600,000+ street trees with 130+ species in NYC. We create an extensive database of information on street trees, air quality, and respiratory illness (asthma hospitalization rate), as well as ancillary data including neighborhood demographics and land use profiles. The NYC tree census dataset (cleaned n=652,169) provides each street tree’s location (latitude and longitude), species, diameter at breast height, surrounding sidewalk condition (during the survey), Neighborhood Tabulation Area (NTA), and zip code.

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Check out the Interactive Data Visualization.

Exploratory data visualization reveal the spatial disparity of asthma prevalence and related environmental factors across neighborhoods in NYC. From left to right: (a) Asthma Emergency Department (ED) visits per thousand population by zip code; (b) Annual average air quality (PM 2.5 level); (c) Percentage of vulnerable population (age =65).

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The availability of data resources from numerous agencies and activities in cities provides new opportunities for improved urban management decision-making and more efficient and equitable services for citizens. This type of hyper-local knowledge could help individuals understand the ecology of their neighborhood and take steps to more effectively manage underlying health conditions. This process requires the collective efforts of city agencies, domain experts, data scientists, and local communities.

Read the full research paper published in Health & Place.

For citation: Lai, Yuan, and Constantine E. Kontokosta. “The impact of urban street tree species on air quality and respiratory illness: A spatial analysis of large-scale, high-resolution urban data.” Health & Place 56 (2019): 80-87.

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