New tools to quantify ecosystem services, improve efficiency in urban green area maintenance and help cities to adapt to climate change.

The 1st of July 2018 the LIFE URBANGREEN Project officially started and on the 11th and 12th of July the Kick-off Meeting will take place in the City of Bolzano (Italy). The 2.5 M€ project (1.3 M€ contribution from the European LIFE Program), with a duration of three years, will develop new tools to manage efficiently urban green spaces and test them in three cities: Rimini (Italy), Krakow (Poland) and Taipei (Taiwan). The main objective of LIFE URBANGREEN is to optimize and demonstrate in real-life an innovative technological platform to improve management of green areas in 2 European and one Asian city. The platform is based on a green area management system and GIS technologies developed by R3 GIS, a small enterprise from Northern Italy, and integrates an assessment of the ecosystem services provided by green areas in cities,  smart management of water, optimization of routes for maintenance, an environmental monitoring system with IOT technology, meteorological and remote sensing data and public participation tools. The World Urban Parks Association is represented in the project Steering Committee by Jean-Marie Rogel, Director of Green Area Management of the City of Lyon.

Nearly 4 out of 5 European citizens live in cities, where the quality of life depends largely on the quality of the urban environment, yet urban areas in Europe have to deal with a large number of environmental issues. Although the scale and intensity of the problems varies from city to city, a common set of emergencies can be identified, including poor air quality, high levels of ambient noise, climate change and the related need for adaptation, lack of sports and play areas, low quality of green areas. All these issues constitute real environmental challenges and result in significant impacts on the quality of life and the economic performance of cities. Among them that of urban green areas, which cannot be considered as aesthetic and ecological elements anymore, but as a real service to the citizen and lively allied for urban climate regulation and climate change mitigation.

Local governments are investing considerable resources to create and maintain public green areas, whose costs arise primarily from maintenance and operation (cutting, pruning, fertilization), and by the use of water. In addition, local governments have to ensure the safety of citizens in public areas, by monitoring trees and playgrounds. Although some tools are available to support good management and increase resource efficiency, the need for smart and integrated systems is strongly felt. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) provide a good basis for integrating all assets, maintenance operations, environmental indicators and inputs from the citizen to ensure a safe and efficient maintenance of public green areas and an enhancement of the environmental benefits arising from them.

The project is coordinated by R3 GIS, a small enterprise from Northern Italy, specialised in WebGIS applications for green area management, with scientific support from the University of Milano, technical support in remote sensing from Progea 4D in Poland and pilot areas in Rimini (managed by Anthea srl) and Krakow (managed by ZZM).

Soon information on the project will be shared on the website www.lifeurbangreen.eu 

Figure 1 shows a Laser Scan dataset of an urban green area of Krakow