Gallery: Data From Google Earth Helps to Uncover Chicago’s Hidden Urban...


Google Earth has already been helpful in such endeavors as monitoring the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and determining the location of landmines. Now, advocates of urban agriculture are using the technology to help identify and catalog food-producing areas in Chicago. Previous attempts at recording the plots of land at ground level were often difficult and inaccurate. When Sarah Taylor Lovell’s lab from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign at first tried to verify over 1,200 community garden projects, they found that only 13 per cent were places that actually grew food. After intrepid student John Taylor spent nearly 400 hours pouring over Google Earth in 2010, he discovered 4,648 production sites covering 65 acres. Personal visits to the sites confirmed that 86 per cent were viable horticultural hotspots.

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