Preserving the City of Trees

Data Science for Social Good 2015

The City of Atlanta has one of the largest urban tree canopies in the United States. This requires strong conservation efforts so both residents and visitors can enjoy and benefit from the canopy.

Over the course of a ten-week summer internship at Georgia Tech, students created a few tools to assist Trees Atlanta and the Atlanta Tree Conservation Commission. Check out the interactive applications below or read more about the project and the motivations behind the work. Learn more

DSSG - BiodiversityDSSG - Planting Prioritization DSSG - Conservation

What is DSSG?

Data Science for Social Good is an intensive, ten-week paid internship experience that places students onto multi-disciplinary teams working under the supervision of a professor on a problem that comes from a partner in the City of Atlanta or a local non-profit company. Mentors from the local data science practitioner community will provide additional guidance and support. See the full website and learn more about the program.


Data Sources

The data used in this project is listed on the right, with links to the data that is available online. There are some inaccuracies with the new dataset built on these sources because of the variety and the time at which they were collected. However, it does provide a baseline for Trees Atlanta and the Atlanta Tree Commission to explore the information in new ways.

City of Atlanta

Trees Atlanta

  • Planted Trees, 1994-2014

Georgia Tech

  • Urban Tree Canopy, 2008
  • Watershed, 2008
  • Thermal heat map, 2011



Before developing the applications, the data had to be processed in ESRI ArcGIS. Data like streams, waterbodies, and the tree canopy were spatially joined to the city parcels. This resulted in a shapefile of parcel entries with necessary attributes to build the application on.

PostgreSQL, PHP, d3.js, Leaflet.js

PostGres and PostGIS function as the backend, since it can support ESRI shapefiles. This database was necessary due to the large amount of geospatial data and for sustainability purposes. PHP connects the backend to the frontend. The main libraries used in the frontend are d3.js and Leaflet.js.