Stoke The Public’s Tree Curiosity With A Community Engagement Map

Learn more about the newest feature in the TreePlotter™ software suite.

September 1, 2021  | Alec Sabatini

Community Engagement Map and TreePlotter Software
How do you get people to engage with their local urban forest? A good place to start is by having digital resources at the ready when curious residents decide they want to know more about the trees they pass by every day.

It’s not enough to just have a webpage though. There is a high bar for capturing and holding anyone’s attention online. Information on the internet needs to be easily accessible, intuitive, and interesting. The best way to meet those requirements for urban forestry is through an interactive, online tree map. These tools give residents a navigable, visual display of where trees are in their community and at the click of a button they can access information like species, size, and eco-benefits for the whole forest or on an individual tree basis.

And why is that important? Well, advocacy starts with education. Interactive tree maps are a potent method for building public awareness and by extension, public support for urban forestry programs.

PlanIT Geo™ has built a new core feature to meet this modern need. The Community Engagement Map (CEM) provides clients with a simple, public-friendly version of their TreePlotter™ INVENTORY application that can be accessed as an embedded map on a live webpage or as a stand-alone website. The more the community engages with the map, the more the appreciation and recognition of your urban forestry programs will grow.

Why utilize a Community Engagement Map?

At its core, a Community Engagement Map is designed to share tree data in a simple and clean format everyone can understand. A typical tree inventory often includes more information than the public would be interested in. The Community Engagement Map is configurable so clients can share a limited version of their inventory that highlights the data they most want the public to see.

Here are three of the top benefits of a CEM:

Awareness

Folks often don’t think twice about the trees shading their sidewalk or lining their route to work. We forget about our surroundings all the time, focused on a million other things. A Community Engagement Map is a platform to draw the public’s attention back to their surrounding environment by prompting them to look at and then look up their urban trees. Once that habit starts, it can be hard to shake.

Education

A CEM helps to educate community members about the urban trees right in their neighborhood or hours away. Depending on how much tree data is available, viewers can explore the trees in their area, the neighboring town, or around the state. It is an excellent way to build the connection in the public’s mind between urban trees and the myriad of ecosystem services they provide. It’s also another place to share about ongoing urban forestry programs and initiatives.

Engagement

A CEM is all about getting the public to interact with the urban forest. It can easily be integrated into citizen science programs, where community members are asked to record information about the trees in their neighborhood. The CEM can also be a resource for local school projects as well as a helpful destination to link to during stakeholder engagement campaigns.

Educate and engage your community with Community Engagement Map and TreePlotter

At its core, a Community Engagement Map is designed to share tree data in a simple and clean format everyone can understand.

Who can benefit from a Community Engagement Map?

Local, County, and State Departments

Government agencies that have urban forest responsibilities have a lot to gain from a Community Engagement Map. Maintaining public trees also requires maintaining a relationship with the public. Residents can be a major ally for urban forestry efforts, providing a pool of volunteers for public events and more eyes in the community on the lookout for hazardous trees. Additionally, growing public appreciation for the urban forest through a CEM can help when advocating for budget increases.

Homeowner Associations (HOAs)

Homeowner associations are tasked with providing residents with well-maintained outdoor landscaping but can get pushback from homeowners when monthly dues are secured for tree work. Residents often aren’t aware of the value brought to their home through tree care efforts. The Community Engagement Map provides HOAs with a simple tool that can be readily shared with homeowners to educate them on the value of their trees. With advanced features, you can share the eco-benefits of their property trees and all trees within the association’s limits to demonstrate why tree and landscape maintenance is a significant portion of their dues.

Universities

Colleges and universities often invest heavily in the look of their campus, and for good reason. A beautifully landscaped campus is a powerful selling tool for prospective students and an important amenity for current students and faculty. Community Engagement Maps allow universities to demonstrate how their investments in campus landscaping benefit the students. They can also act as an educational resource and be integrated into environmental coursework and student projects.

Private Tree Care Businesses

Private tree care businesses are always looking for ways to differentiate themselves from the competition. A Community Engagement Map is a new way to stand out from the pack and offer a unique value add to clients. If you have clients in any of the aforementioned categories, you can see how offering a Community Engagement Map along with your tree care services could make the difference in winning a bid.

What are the essential features of the Community Engagement Map?

 

Community Engagement Map Tree Information Sidebar

Tree Information Display

There is a wide variety of tree data that can be shared through a community engagement map and it is up to the client to decide which fields should be included. Common data fields include species, land use, diameter at breast height (DBH), condition, or planting date. Eco-benefits can also be shared, including stormwater, property value, energy savings, carbon capture, air quality improvements, and more.

 

Stoke The Public’s Tree Curiosity With A Community Engagement Map. The newest feature in the TreePlotter™ software suite.

Mobile-Friendly

More than half of global internet traffic now comes from mobile devices. All public-facing websites need to have a mobile-friendly version, online tree maps included. It also just makes sense. Often a resident will get curious about urban trees while they are out and about, seeing trees in action. It is therefore essential to have that information readily available on a mobile device.

 

Stoke The Public’s Tree Curiosity With A Community Engagement Map. The newest feature in the TreePlotter™ software suite.

Filterable Results

Online tree engagement maps can host a mountain of data. The easiest way for users to organize that information and find answers to their questions is with filters. Any informational field can be set up to have the map color coded by that attribute. Users can then toggle through different attributes and see how the map trends change. Also included is a “Show top five” option, so users can quickly find the superlative trees in the categories of their choosing.

 

We would be happy to have a more specific conversation about how a Community Engagement Map could work for your business or agency. Please get in touch to learn more.

Related Resources

Stoke The Public’s Tree Curiosity With A Community Engagement Map. The newest feature in the TreePlotter™ software suite.

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Join Our Newsletter

Stay informed on the urban forestry industry with quarterly newsletters, live webinars, and industry-specific content delivered to your inbox.

Urban Forestry Webinars

PlanIT Geo has a substantial on-demand webinar library. Get CEU credits, grow your knowledge base, and stay current on cutting edge industry technology.

Follow Us

We love to share industry-related news, software tutorials, blogs, and company news across our social channels.