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New App Harnesses Google Street View For Collecting Research Data

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Researchers are developing a new application that will use the technology behind Google Street View for speeding up data collection.

Michael Bader, a professor of sociology at the American University, revealed the app developed is called Computer Assisted Neighborhood Visual Assessment System (CANVAS). The app rated 150 dissimilar features of neighborhoods in some main metropolitan cities in the U.S. The researchers claim the latest app reduces the cost and time in research.

With the help of Google Street View, the new app connects images and creates panoramic views of the required rural areas as well as cities. Bader explains that without the Google app researchers would have to cover many square miles for data collection, which is a painstaking job.

CANVAS combines the image data collected by Google Street View with the Django software and provides a reliable, comprehensive and efficient tool that helps in steering sociological research on a large scale.

Sociologists rate neighborhoods based on several factors, which impacts people's quality of health and life.

"Neighborhoods affect how healthy people are, how they interact, and how safe they feel. Factors like broken sidewalks, curbs without cut-outs, and a lack of cross-walks are associated with negative health outcomes," says Bader.

The app has already received funding of around $250,000 and s also supposed to be the first app that examines the scope and reliability of Google Street View when it comes to rating the neighborhoods in the U.S.

Bader reveals he is currently using CANVAS for a research on the Washington D.C. area. He revealed the population of people who have reached 65 and over in the region will be 15.3 percent by 2030. Bader hopes to understand why elderly people leave their community and what stops them from spending the remainder of the lives in the region. Bader's research wants to understand the challenges elders face in Washington D.C.

Bader and his team are trying to procure more funds, which will allow further development of the app so that it can be released as a product for sociologists to use everywhere.

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