Biophilic Cities

How green are Ireland’s cities?

Marguerite Nyhan, the principle investigator in this “Biophilic Cities” research initiative, and Anna O’Regan PhD researcher,  both of MaREI, have harnessed 750,000 Google Street View images and AI to quantify urban greenspace and its impact on human health in unprecedented scale in 3 Irish cities

In pushing the boundaries on traditional principles, Google Street View imagery and AI can unlock the full health benefit potential of urban greenspace

According to the biophilia hypothesis, humans have evolved to prefer natural environments that are essential to their thriving.

With urbanization occurring at an unprecedented rate globally, this poses immense challenges to urban sustainability, livability and public health. There is tremendous opportunity to counteract the negative impacts of urbanization on human health and well-being with positive environmental exposures such as urban greenspace. However, to unlock its full health benefit potential, a better understanding of urban greenspace as experienced by people at street-level is urgently required.

With new groundbreaking research conducted by the Nyhan Future Sustainability Research Group at UCC, urban greenspace can be quantified in unprecedented resolution, accuracy and scale along with its impact on health and socioeconomic factors.

Researchers firstly mapped urban greenspace using 750,000 Google Street View images and computer vision methods to cover the expanse of three major cities in Ireland – Dublin City, Cork City and Galway City. Secondly, the study revealed strong links between higher greenspace exposures and better self-reported health. Researchers also found that people who lived in areas with more greenspace had higher levels of income and education than those living in areas with lower levels of urban greenspace.

The findings will have major implications for research and the sustainable, healthy and equitable design of future cities.

To read the article and find out more on Biophlic cities, click here