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Professor Develops Tool to Speed Data Collection


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American University professor Michael Bader

Researchers at American University have developed a Web application that can help speed the collection of research data.

Credit: American University

American University (AU) researchers have developed the Computer Assisted Neighborhood Visual Assessment System (CANVAS), a Web application that helps accelerate the collection of research data.

The researchers used CANVAS to rate 150 different features of neighborhoods in major metropolitan cities across the U.S. They found the app eliminated costly and time-consuming aspects of conducting research by utilizing Google Street View technology.

"CANVAS takes Google Street View a step further by marrying its image data collection with Django software, providing a reliable, efficient, and comprehensive tool for conducting sociological research on a large scale," says AU professor Michael Bader.

AU researchers currently are using CANVAS to rate features on streets in elderly neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., Montgomery County, MD, Prince George's County, MD, Fairfax County, VA, and Arlington County, VA. After the researchers rate the streets, they will use geostatistical computation to create a "surface" of each measure, and then Bader and colleagues will use the maps to determine neighborhood conditions associated with health outcomes among elders.

He says the computer maps also provide a useful visual aid for policy makers. "This will help us know what challenges elders face in D.C. and how feasible it is for elders to successfully age in place without facing major physical obstacles," Bader says.

From American University
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