skip to main content

Title: Analyze the usage of urban greenways through social media images and computer vision
Urban greenway is an emerging form of urban landscape offering multifaceted benefits to public health, economy, and ecology. However, the usage and user experiences of greenways are often challenging to measure because it is costly to survey such large areas. Based on the online postings from Instagram in 2017, this paper used Computer Vision (CV) technology to analyze and compare how the general public uses two typical greenway parks, The High Line in New York City and the Atlanta Beltline in Atlanta. Face and object detection analysis were conducted to infer user composition, activities, and key experiences. We presented the temporal patterns of Instagram postings as well as the group gatherings, smiling, and representative objects detected from photos. Our results have shown high user engagement levels for both parks while teens are significantly underrepresented. The High Line had more group activities and was more active during weekdays than the Atlanta Beltline. Stronger sense of escape and physical activities can be found in Atlanta Beltline. In summary, social media images like Instagram can provide strong empirical evidence for urban greenway usage when combined with artificial intelligence technologies, which can support the future practice of landscape architecture and urban design.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science
Page Range / eLocation ID:
1682 to 1696
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Broadband infrastructure in urban parks may serve crucial functions including an amenity to boost overall park use and a bridge to propagate WiFi access into contiguous neighborhoods. This project: SCC:PG Park WiFi as a BRIDGE to Community Resilience has developed a new model —Build Resilience through the Internet and Digital Greenspace Exposure, leveraging off-the-shelf WiFi technology, novel algorithms, community assets, and local partnerships to lower greenspace WiFi costs. This interdisciplinary work leverages: computer science, information studies, landscape architecture, and public health. Collaboration methodologies and relational definitions across disciplines are still nascent —especially when paired with civic-engaged, applied research. Student researchers (UG/Grad) are excellent partners in bridging disciplinary barriers and constraints. Their capacity to assimilate multiple frameworks has produced refinements to the project’s theoretical lenses and suggested novel socio-technical methodology improvements. Further, they are excellent ambassadors to community partners and stakeholders. In BRIDGE, we tested two mechanisms to augment student research participation. In both, we leveraged a classic, curriculum-based model named the Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability program (PALS). This campus-wide, community-engaged initiative pairs faculty and students with community partners. PALS curates economic, environmental, and social sustainability challenges and scopes projects to customize appropriate coursework that addresses identified challenges. Outcomes include: literature searches, wireframes, and design plans that target solutions to civic problems. Constraints include the short semester timeframe and curriculum-learning-outcome constraints. (1) On BRIDGE, Dr. Kweon executed a semester-based Landscape Architecture PALS 400-level-studio. 18 undergraduates conducted in-class and in-field work to assess community needs and proposed design solutions for future park-wide WiFi. Research topics included: community-park history, neighborhood demographics, case-study analysis, and land-cover characteristics. The students conducted an in-Park, community engagement session —via interactive posterboard surveys, to gain input on what park amenities might be redesigned or added to promote WiFi use. The students then produced seven re-design plans; one included a café/garden, with an eco-corridor that integrated technology with nature. (2) From the classic, curriculum-based PALS model we created a summer-intensive for our five research assistants, to stimulate interdisciplinary collaboration in their research tasks and co-analysis of project data products: experimental technical WiFi-setup, community survey results, and stakeholder needs-assessments. Students met weekly with each other and team leadership, exchanged journal articles, and attended joint research events. This model shows promise for integrating students more formally into an interdisciplinary research project. An end-of-intensive focus group highlighted, from the students’ perspective, the pro/cons of this model. Results: In contrasting the two mechanisms, our results include: Model 1 is tried-and-trued and produces standardized, reliable products. However, as work is group based, student independence is limited —to explore topics/themes of interest. Civic groups are typically thrilled with the diversity of action plans produced. Model 2 provides greater independence in student-learning outcomes, fosters interdisciplinary, “dictionary-building” that can be used by the full team, deepens methodological approaches, and allows for student stipend payments. Lessons learned: intensive time frame needed more research team support and ideally should be extended, when possible, over the full project-span. UMD-IRB#1785365-4; NSF-award: 2125526. 
    more » « less
  2. This paper describes an attempt to utilize paid citizen science in a research project that documented urban park usage during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in two U.S. cities. Strategies used by the research team to recruit, pay, and evaluate the experiences of the 43 citizen scientists are discussed alongside key challenges in contemporary citizen science. A literature review suggests that successful citizen science projects foster diverse and inclusive participation; develop appropriate ways to compensate citizen scientists for their work; maximize opportunities for participant learning; and ensure high standards for data quality. In this case study, the selection process proved successful in employing economically vulnerable individuals, though the citizen scientist participants were disproportionately female, young, White, non-Hispanic, single, and college educated relative to the communities studied. The participants reported that the financial compensation provided by the study, similar in amount to the economic stimulus checks distributed simultaneously by the Federal government, were reasonable given the workload, and many used it to cover basic household needs. Though the study took place in a period of high economic risk, and more than 80% of the participants had never participated in a scientific study, the experience was rated overwhelmingly positive. Participants reported that the work provided stress relief, indicated they would consider participating in similar research in the future. Despite the vast majority never having engaged in most park stewardship activities, they expressed interest in learning more about park usage, mask usage in public spaces, and socio-economic trends in relation to COVID-19. Though there were some minor challenges in data collection, data quality was sufficient to publish the topical results in a peer-reviewed companion paper. Key insights on the logistical constraints faced by the research team are highlighted throughout the paper to advance the case for paid citizen science. 
    more » « less
  3. Elkins, Christopher A. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Wildlife can be exposed to antimicrobial-resistant bacteria (ARB) via multiple pathways. Spatial overlap with domestic animals is a prominent exposure pathway. However, most studies of wildlife-domestic animal interfaces have focused on livestock and little is known about the wildlife-companion animal interface. Here, we investigated the prevalence and phylogenetic relatedness of extended-spectrum cephalosporin-resistant (ESC-R) Escherichia coli from raccoons ( Procyon lotor ) and domestic dogs ( Canis lupus familiaris ) in the metropolitan area of Chicago, IL, USA. To assess the potential importance of spatial overlap with dogs, we explored whether raccoons sampled at public parks (i.e., parks where people and dogs could enter) differed in prevalence and phylogenetic relatedness of ESC-R E. coli to raccoons sampled at private parks (i.e., parks where people and dogs could not enter). Raccoons had a significantly higher prevalence of ESC-R E. coli (56.9%) than dogs (16.5%). However, the richness of ESC-R E. coli did not vary by host species. Further, core single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-based phylogenetic analyses revealed that isolates did not cluster by host species, and in some cases displayed a high degree of similarity (i.e., differed by less than 20 core SNPs). Spatial overlap analyses revealed that ESC-R E. coli were more likely to be isolated from raccoons at public parks than raccoons at private parks, but only for parks located in suburban areas of Chicago, not urban areas. That said, ESC-R E. coli isolated from raccoons did not genetically cluster by park of origin. Our findings suggest that domestic dogs and urban/suburban raccoons can have a diverse range of ARB, some of which display a high degree of genetic relatedness (i.e., differ by less than 20 core SNPs). Given the differences in prevalence, domestic dogs are unlikely to be an important source of exposure for mesocarnivores in urbanized areas. IMPORTANCE Antimicrobial-resistant bacteria (ARB) have been detected in numerous wildlife species across the globe, which may have important implications for human and animal health. Wildlife can be exposed to ARB via numerous pathways, including via spatial overlap with domestic animals. However, the interface with domestic animals has mostly been explored for livestock and little is known about the interface between wild animals and companion animals. Our work suggests that urban and suburban wildlife can have similar ARB to local domestic dogs, but local dogs are unlikely to be a direct source of exposure for urban-adapted wildlife. This finding is important because it underscores the need to incorporate wildlife into antimicrobial resistance surveillance efforts, and to investigate whether certain urban wildlife species could act as additional epidemiological pathways of exposure for companion animals, and indirectly for humans. 
    more » « less
  4. null (Ed.)
    Urban parks and green spaces provide a wide range of ecosystem services, including social interaction and stress reduction. When COVID-19 closed schools and businesses and restricted social gatherings, parks became one of the few places that urban residents were permitted to visit outside their homes. With a focus on Philadelphia, PA and New York City, NY, this paper presents a snapshot of the park usage during the early phases of the pandemic. Forty-three Civic Scientists were employed by the research team to observe usage in 22 different parks selected to represent low and high social vulnerability, and low, medium, and high population density. Despite speculation that parks could contribute to the spread of COVID-19, no strong correlation was found between the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in adjacent zip codes and the number of park users. High social vulnerability neighborhoods were associated with a significantly higher number of COVID-19 cases ([Formula: see text]). In addition, no significant difference in the number of park users was detected between parks in high and low vulnerability neighborhoods. The number of park users did significantly increase with population density in both cities ([Formula: see text]), though usage varied greatly by park. Males were more frequently observed than females in parks in both high vulnerability and high-density neighborhoods. Although high vulnerability neighborhoods reported higher COVID-19 cases, residents of Philadelphia and New York City appear to have been undeterred from visiting parks during this phase of the pandemic. This snapshot study provides no evidence to support closing parks during the pandemic. To the contrary, people continued to visit parks throughout the study, underscoring their evident value as respite for urban residents during the early phases of the pandemic. 
    more » « less
  5. Metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona, in the Sonoran Desert, provides an excellent opportunity to understand residents’ preferences for desert-adapted xeric landscaping. While much is known about the relationships between sociodemographics and broad environmental values on xeric landscaping choices, the influence of other variables remains unexplored, especially interactions with and attachments to the desert. We therefore examined the influences of recreational visits to local desert mountain parks and symbolic meanings associated with the native desert on household xeric landscaping preferences. Within a larger study, select questions captured socio-demographics, visitation to desert parks and open spaces, place identity, and xeric landscape preferences. Using Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression, we confirmed that homeownership and a shorter residency predicted preference for xeric landscapes. Hispanics were less likely to prefer xeric landscaping. Interestingly, the novel factor of identity with the desert significantly and positively predicted xeric landscaping preference while visitation to desert parks and open spaces did not. Findings provide several important management implications. First, Phoenix has an opportunity to foster connections with the surrounding environment through its extensive desert mountain parks. Increasing connections between residents and the parks may help shift personal preferences to xeric yard types. Park managers might also work to further stress how household decisions can affect the desert environment. Second, park visitation alone may not suffice to create connections with the desert environment. Instead, park managers should focus on creating opportunities for visitors to recognize the unique, living aspects of the parks and build personal relationships with the ecosystem. Interpretation encouraging emotional connections to the desert environment may aid in fostering an identity with the desert. In addition, messaging and signage campaigns that link people to the parks may prove a novel way of combatting lawn water usage within desert cities. Given their opportunities to foster place identity, urban parks may be important influencers in promoting native plant landscaping. In conclusion, connecting people to their surrounding environments can influence preferences for similar landscape types at the household level. 
    more » « less