Spring 2018 – 497-310: Innovating Downtown & Neighborhood Walkability through Insights from Big Data & Mobile App Tools

Meeting Day/Time
Tuesdays from 6:25 to 9:05 pm
Steven Wilson (Undergraduate Education – Architecture/Urban Planning) (steven_wilson@gensler.com))
Appropriate Majors
All interested students are welcome
Social Innovation

How active is your downtown/neighborhood center and how does it compare with other mixed-use centers? How does downtown pedestrian activity influence other downtown measures of success such as real-estate value and safety? How can we improve downtown activity and performance through design innovation? These are a few questions that might be addressed in this IPRO.

This IPRO project team will design the next generation of the Walk Score app. Walk Score launched its revolutionary app in 2007, marrying big data with a user-friendly interface. Today it is widely recognized by the real estate industry and city planners across the country as the leading walkability index. Useful as it is in measuring potential car independence, it is far from complete. It does not measure the level of pedestrian activity, or the quality of environment, or activity generator sizes, or destination clusters. Merely counting destinations within walking distance is not sufficient.  We need to better understand why active places work well. A new walk activity index app can help fill this gap.

The goal of this IPRO project is to develop an app that measures downtown pedestrian activity and the factors and relationships that influence downtown pedestrian activity, and how these can be leveraged to improve value and performance through design. Depending on the skills and interests of the students, this could involve on-site measures and sensors, video capture, behavioral analysis, big data analysis, and other topics of exploration.

This IPRO project will reflect a five-stage process that includes: problem framing, research, developing alternative solutions, and a design/build/test cycle. During the research phase, the IPRO team will be encouraged to get into the field to visit, observe and measure their favorite downtowns and neighborhood centers throughout the city and region.

  • There will be weekly team meetings with the IPRO instructor to help students review progress and set short and long-term goals.
  • The IPRO team will be organized in sub-teams of 3-5 students to work on different project tasks. In addition to overall regular weekly team meetings, the sub-teams will have time to meet with the IPRO instructor during class and as needed on conference calls or in the IPRO meeting space.
  • Industry speakers will be invited throughout the semester to describe related work and provide feedback.
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