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A Mixed-Method, Comparative Analysis of Geographic Information Systems-Based Urban Planning Indices and Parental Landscape Perceptions

Authors: Shadi Maleki*, Texas State University - San Marcos
Topics: Urban Geography, Planning Geography, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: children geographies, child friendliness, child friendly urban planning, GIS, participatory planning
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/9/2020
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual Track 2
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Although urbanization is associated with many social and economic advantages, it comes with risks, real and perceived, that can influence the ways in which parents and children negotiate urban landscapes. Previous research indicates that limited opportunities for exploration and interaction with built environments can inhibit physical development and psychological self-sufficiency among children. Considering that children’s agency flows mainly through their parents (especially in younger ages) when it comes to matters such as walking independently to school or playing outdoors without adult supervision, the purpose of this mixed-methods comparative research is to evaluate differences between the ways in which urban planners (expert perspective) represent the risks and opportunities of neighborhoods compared to the ways in which parents of school-aged children (lay perspective) perceive the same landscapes in Austin, Texas. The dynamic, city-wide changes in Austin’s urban and social geography over recent decades, its open and publicly engaged urban planning traditions, and its extensive urban GIS data archive makes Austin ideal for this research. This research is composed of three phases. The first phase models walkability, potential social interaction, and distribution of opportunity across the city based on indices and secondary datasets leveraging geographic information systems (GIS). The second phase assesses parental perceptions of child-friendliness about neighborhood characteristics using an online survey and in-depth interviews. The third phase uses quantitative and qualitative techniques to evaluate the differences between expert perspective and parental perceptions in spatially diverse distributed public elementary school attendance zones within Austin, Texas.

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