Using Google Street View to collect large-scale neighborhood data

One sociologist has plans to use a new Google Street View app to study neighborhoods:

Michael Bader, a professor of sociology at the American University, revealed the app developed is called Computer Assisted Neighborhood Visual Assessment System (CANVAS). The app rated 150 dissimilar features of neighborhoods in some main metropolitan cities in the U.S. The researchers claim the latest app reduces the cost and time in research.

With the help of Google Street View, the new app connects images and creates panoramic views of the required rural areas as well as cities. Bader explains that without the Google app researchers would have to cover many square miles for data collection, which is a painstaking job…

The app has already received funding of around $250,000 and s also supposed to be the first app that examines the scope and reliability of Google Street View when it comes to rating the neighborhoods in the U.S.

Bader reveals he is currently using CANVAS for a research on the Washington D.C. area. He revealed the population of people who have reached 65 and over in the region will be 15.3 percent by 2030. Bader hopes to understand why elderly people leave their community and what stops them from spending the remainder of the lives in the region. Bader’s research wants to understand the challenges elders face in Washington D.C.

As an urban sociologist, I think this has a lot of potential: Google Street View has an incredible amount of data and offers a lot of potential for visual sociology. While tradition in urban sociology might involve long-term study of a neighborhood (or perhaps a lot of walking within a single city), this offers a way to easily compare street scenes within and across cities.

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