Bluesky Tree Map of Britain Used to Create First High Res Maps of Allergenic Pollen-Producing Plants   Leicestershire, 22 May 2017 – A map of over 280 million trees nationwide has been used to create

– A map of over 280 million trees nationwide has been used to create the first high resolution maps of allergenic plants and trees of Great Britain. Detailing the location of key plants and trees known to produce pollen that can trigger allergies and asthma, the maps were produced, using Bluesky’s National Tree Map data, at the University of Exeter in collaboration with the Met Office. The maps are designed to help acute hay fever or asthma suffers make informed decisions regarding their condition and give medics a greater insight into the impact of air pollution on asthma and other conditions.

The Bluesky National Tree Map (NTM) identifies the location of more than 280 million trees nationwide, detailing their height and canopy cover. In conjunction with data from the Forestry Commission and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, part of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the NTM was used to develop high resolution maps of twelve key vegetation types that are found in the UK and monitored by the UK Pollen Network. The 1km by 1km maps were produced for the whole of Great Britain with more detailed, focused results presented for London.

“These maps are a step towards a species-level pollen forecast,” commented Dr Rachel McInnes, Honorary Research Fellow at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, part of the University of Exeter Medical School. “Pollen can have a serious impact on the wellbeing of those with hay fever or asthma and, by working towards localised, species level forecasts, vulnerable people can better plan their activities and manage their condition.”

“Studying the maps shows some interesting results,” added Rachel Tidmarsh, Managing Director of Bluesky. “For example, people with an allergy to birch, alder or oak should perhaps avoid Brighton and Blackpool for their holidays, while those for whom hazel and ash trees cause sneezing may want to avoid the south!”

The maps, produced using the Bluesky NTM data, have been released to coincide with new research that shows exposure to pollen can increase hospital emissions for asthma within days of exposure. Around 80 percent of people with asthma also have a pollen allergy, and in the UK around 10 percent of the adult population is affected by asthma. Asthma is estimated to cost the UK economy around £6bn per year, with a direct cost to the National Health Service (NHS) of £1bn. According to the NHS, asthma related illnesses lead to 50,000 hospital admissions per year and more than 1,200 deaths.



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The Bluesky National Tree Map has been created using innovative algorithms and image processing techniques in combination with the most up to date and detailed aerial photography and height data in the UK. A team of experienced professionals then completed an exhaustive QA process to ensure the quality and accuracy of the data. In addition to the three vector map layers; Crown Polygons, Idealised Crowns and Height Points, the Bluesky National Tree Map also includes an attribute table including unique identification for each crown feature, height attributes and area calculations. The data is available in a range of GIS ready formats with flexible annual licencing.

Applications of the Bluesky National Tree Map include subsidence risk assessment by insurance companies, propagation modelling for telecommunication infrastructure planning, network resilience assessment for utility companies and carbon reduction planning for environmental mitigation projects. Existing users of the data are already reporting significant improvements in day to day planning and operational efficiency achieved through the use of Bluesky National Tree Map data. 

Bluesky National Tree Map is currently available for England and Wales with work already underway to create coverage for Scotland.

Bluesky is a specialist in aerial survey including aerial photography, LiDAR and thermal data, using the very latest survey technology, including two UltraCam Eagles and a Teledyne Optech Galaxy LiDAR system integrated with a PhaseOne camera and thermal sensor. An internationally recognised leader with projects extending around the globe, Bluesky is proud to work with prestigious organisations such as Google, the BBC and Government Agencies. 

Bluesky has unrivalled expertise in the creation of seamless, digital aerial photography and maintains national “off the shelf” coverage of aerial photography, DTM and DSM through an ongoing three-year update programme. By purchasing a world first sensor for the simultaneous capture of LiDAR, Thermal and Aerial Photography data, Bluesky is in the enviable position of being able to provide customers with unique and cost effective solutions.

Bluesky is leading the way in developing innovative solutions for environmental applications, including the UK’s first National Tree Map (NTM), solar mapping and citywide ‘heat loss’ maps and is currently developing noise and air quality mapping products.

Published Monday, May 22nd, 2017

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