Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Connecting Poor and Rich: Transit, Equity, and Crime

Historically, rich neighborhoods in cities (like Lake Oswego in Portland, OR) have opposed building transit lines that connect them with poor neighborhoods in fear of their own safety. With the recent availability of large amount of urban data and "hotness" of big data analytics, an interesting idea of research is performing a comparative analysis of different transit routes with respect to equity and safety/crime. Thanks to the Transit Quality and Equity visualization project by the vudlab at UC Berkeley, one could qualitatively/visually realize that there exist some transit routes in San Francisco that connects poor neighborhoods to rich neighborhoods (or poor-to-poor and rich-to-rich). One could compute an equity score for each route (based on income for example) and compare different transit routes in the entire transit network with respect to that equity score. In addition to an average equity score, one could also look at the variations throughout each route and identify those routes that goes through highly different neighborhoods (from poor to rich for example). Using detailed crime data (if available publicly), a safety analysis (for example, # of crimes inside the transit vehicle or in the vicinity of the transit station) could also be performed for each route and comparatively. Can we verify whether the routes that connect rich and poor neighborhoods are associated with high crime rates? Does transit reduce safety in rich neighborhoods?

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