Blog Archives

Street Level Urban Design Qualities for Walkability: Combining 2D and 3D GIS Measures

Much of the physical activity and built environment literature has focused on composite walkability indices based on the D variables– design, density, diversity, destination accessibility, and distance to transit. This literature, however, has largely ignored the microscale streetscape features that affect the pedestrian experience. Five street level urban design qualities were recently identified and defined for quantitative measures although these  measures are mostly through subjective field observation. View related features such as long sight line and proportion of sky have not yet been objectively measured due to the limitation of data and method. This study uses both 2D and 3D GIS to objectively measure street level urban design qualities in Buffalo, New York and tests their correlation with observed pedestrian counts and Walk Scores. Our results showed that 3D GIS helped to generate objective measures on view related features. These objective measures can help us better understand the influence of street level urban design features on walkability for designing and planning healthy cities.

Optimizing Cruising Routes for Taxi Drivers Using a Spatio-temporal Trajectory Model

Much of the taxi route-planning literature has focused on driver strategies for finding passengers and determining the hot spot pick-up locations using historical global positioning system (GPS) trajectories of taxis based on driver experience, distance from the passenger drop-off location to the next passenger pick-up location and the waiting times at recommended locations for the next passenger. The present work, however, considers the average taxi travel speed mined from historical taxi GPS trajectory data and the allocation of cruising routes to more than one taxi driver in a small-scale region to neighboring pick-up locations. A spatio-temporal trajectory model with load balancing allocations is presented to not only explore pick-up/drop-off information but also provide taxi drivers with cruising routes to the recommended pick-up locations. In simulation experiments, our study shows that taxi drivers using cruising routes recommended by our spatio-temporal trajectory model can significantly reduce the average waiting time and travel less distance to quickly find their next passengers, and the load balancing strategy significantly alleviates road loads. These objective measures can help us better understand spatio-temporal traffic patterns and guide taxi navigation.

Critical Consciousness and Schooling: The Impact of the Community as a Classroom Program on Academic Indicators

The present study investigates the extent to which a program guided by the principles of critical pedagogy, which seeks to develop critical consciousness, is associated with the improved academic performance of students attending a low-performance middle-school in Buffalo, New York.
The students were enrolled in an in-school academic support program called the Community as Classroom, which used critical project-based learning to show students how to improve neighborhood conditions. The study found that the Community as Classroom program bolstered student
engagement as reflected in improved attendance, on-time-arrival at school, and reduced suspensions. Although class grades did not improve, standardized scores, particularly in Math and Science, dramatically improved for these students from the lowest scoring categories. We suspect that given increased student engagement and dramatically improved standardized test scores, teacher bias might be the cause of no improvements in class grades. We conclude that critical pedagogy, which leads to increased critical consciousness, is a tool that can lead to improved academic performance of students. Such a pedagogy, we argue, should be more widely used in public schools, with a particular emphasis on their deployment in Community Schools.