Petropoulos Z, Levy J, Scammell MK, Fabian MP. (2019). Characterizing community-wide housing attributes using georeferenced street-level photography. JESEE.
Environmental Health doctoral candidate, Zoe Petropoulos, and CRESSH investigators led by Prof. Patricia Fabian (MAP-EHD project) recently published a study on their use of street-level photography to research housing attributes. They developed a new protocol to estimate the prevalence of open windows and air conditioning (AC) units in Chelsea, MA in coordination with GreenRoots, the Chelsea Beautification Committee, and the Chelsea Department of Public Works. Over the course of two 4-hour car rides (in summer and winter), a team of BUSPH student and research assistant volunteers captured 14,000 photos in Chelsea. Zoe then created a crowdsourcing website that paired the photographs of homes with a survey that asked three questions: Are the windows open? One what floor are the open windows located? Is there a window AC on the building? Researchers, family, and friends then answered the survey and the data was used to make descriptive maps of the city. The results showed that: Open windows and AC units were more common during the summer; open windows in the winter were most commonly seen on the top floor; almost 50% of the residences had both open windows and ACs present; AC units were easier to detect than open windows (but applying a grid onto each photo helped in window recording accuracy), and capturing street-view photography from a car was as accurate as capturing photographs by walking.