Trees Near Me

Mapping the trees of New South Wales


Developed in close collaboration with environment scientists in the NSW government, the Trees Near Me app brings a detailed vegetation map of the entire state into the hands of citizens.
UX and UI
Mobile Apps
Complex Maps
Screenshots of the Trees Near Me app

The Brief.

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment has led the way in its adoption of the 'open data' philosophy, with the publication of a large suite of environmental data through the NSW Government's existing SEED portal (The Central Resource for Sharing and Enabling Environmental Data in NSW). While the depth of this data is very impressive, accessing and understanding the data is generally beyond the reach of lay users.
The brief for the Trees Near Me NSW app was to develop a software solution that integrated with the technical resources available through the SEED portal and presented that data in an easily accessible and understood mobile app. The app would be freely available to the public and needed to support iOS and Android phones, as well as providing a web-based version for desktop access.
Screenshot of the map from the Trees Near Me website

Design Challenge.

The greatest challenge in designing the Trees Near Me NSW mobile app finding a way to take a complex, geospatial dataset and present it in a way that would seem intuitive and immediately of value to end users.
Our approach typifies the keep-it-simple approach to design. Upon launch (following some brief onboarding for brand new users), the user is immediately presented with a map, centered on their current location. Without any interactions, the app then presents the user with a summary of the types of vegetation at that location. Searching other locations requires no filling out forms, no registration, nor knowledge of the domain - rather the user is empowered to simply discover the vegetation growing throughout the state by panning and zooming the map.
While the presentation of the app appears incredibly simple, it belies the complexity of the data and software architecture powering the app. Rastered map tiles are served directly from NSW Government servers, while asynchronous queries to determine the location around target areas is performed via an optimised, bespoke API. Augmenting this information is data imported from a third source, the NSW Government's BioNet portal.
Screenshots of the Trees Near Me app
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