Google can serve as "entry-level GIS for urban tree managers"

Google's Fusion Tables web application can serve as a low-cost multi-user geographic information system (GIS) for urban forest managers, Canadian researchers have concluded.

"Google Fusion Tables provide cloud-based computing services for data management and easy user collaboration through the Google Maps interface," the team from Toronto's Ryerson University said.

"Fusion Tables are oriented toward smaller organizations that previously were unable to publish data online due to limitations of database knowledge and high cost of start-up."

An interactive web-based mapping platform, the project, tested the technology's ability to map trees on the university's campus, while query interface enabled users to narrow down the tree population by species, diameter, height, and location.

"We found that Fusion Tables performed well as a storage medium for our campus tree data, which could easily be explored through our creation of a JavaScript- enabled query tool," they concluded - describing their efforts as "a roadmap for small to medium-sized urban forestry organizations seeking to create interactive mapping applications".

Their findings are published in the journal Urban Forestry & Urban Greening.

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