Are Streets Named Long Street Longer Than Streets Named Short Street?

Authors: David Parr*, Metropolitan State University of Denver
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Geography Education
Keywords: GIS, whimsy, fun, student, geospatial education, Census
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Teaching undergraduate courses in Geographic Information Science (GIS) often includes "real world" applications of analysis, data, and visualization. Luckily for us, the "real world" can include a touch of whimsy and fun. In this assignment for a GIS class, we break down how to answer the question "Are Streets Names Long Street Longer Than Streets Named Short Street?" (Answer: No - Short Streets are longer!) The area scope is the contiguous United States. Spatial data for all streets had to be parsed, and data for streets with similar but different names ("Huey Long Ave." for example) had to be removed. For the purposes of this work, we included alternate designations (Bridge, Road, Street, Avenue, etc), but not roads named after people or places (ie, "Long Run Road.") Streets with the same name had to be spatially connected. All remaining streets were checked for contiguity and measured for length based on local State Plane Coordinate Systems. Remaining streets were visualized, and then t-tests run to compare average lengths between the two groups.

The question may inspire silliness, but the work is real. By using a combination of "real world" and "real world-adjacent" projects may help inspire creativity in GIS students, as well as get students who may not be comfortable with GIS to approach these problems in a new way. In the end, we found that bringing creativity to a GIS project increases student motivation and fun.

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