In urban settings trees are often perceived at the edge of our awareness. As cities world-wide engage in large-scale tree planting initiatives to address a broad range of environmental issues, they are engaging in what is essentially a massive ecological and social experiment. State of the art imaging technologies — air-borne, space-borne, and field-based imaging and inventory mechanisms — fail to provide key information on urban tree ecology that is crucial to informing management, policy, and supporting citizen initiatives for the planting and stewardship of emerging urban forests. Mobile participatory/social media as a medium offers novel collaborative imaging approaches with the potential for public engagement at the intersection of cultural vibrancy, stewardship, sustainability, community participation and science. Smartphones hold the potential to enhance real-world experiences with geo-spatial networks of abstract data. We are designing and prototyping mobilebased tools to capture bio-imaging data about the health status of urban trees. The development process blends the arts, participatory culture, science and sustainability.
- Ruth West, Springfield College, USA