Ga. Tech Data Science Interns Develop App For Planting Trees

Trees Atlanta has a new tool to convince property owners to plant more trees.

“We would drive up and down the street and say, ‘They don’t have any right of way trees, they don’t have any front-yard trees.’ And then we look for a link – someone to establish a project there,” said Alex Beasley of Trees Atlanta.   

Beasley said now, convincing homeowners will be a lot easier thanks to a program at Georgia Tech.

Students interning with the Data Science For Social Good internship program at Georgia Tech created an interactive detailed map of the urban canopy that shows Beasley where the city needs more trees. 

When people can see things right in front of them, when I can literally go down to a parcel level and I can say, ‘This is literally your lot, these are the percentages that we’re working with’ – it kind of clicks,” Beasley said.  

The interns also worked on two other tools – one showing the diversity of trees and the other highlights all forested areas of more than 10 acres in the metro area. 

“It’s just been really great being able to work in a program that’s geared toward social good and not just towards making a profit,” said Caroline Foster, a Georgia Tech graduate student who participated in the program.

Kathy Evans, an administrative analyst for the city of Atlanta’s arborist division and the city’s tree conservation commission said this will help the city decide which properties to buy and conserve. 

“It’s always preferable to make planning and policy decisions based on data, but anytime that you can do a visualization of the data and make it more accessible, it’s also more helpful,” Evans said. 

The students also made tools and web applications for the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department and United Way of Greater Atlanta.