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Built environment and violent crime: An environmental audit approach using Google Street View

This talk is part of the Land Economy Departmental Seminar Series. It will be presented by Professor Antonio Paez, McMaster University.
When Oct 11, 2017
from 04:00 PM to 05:00 PM
Where Mill Lane Lecture Room 1
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In this seminar, I will present recent research on the role of the built environment in inducing or hindering violent crime. Previous studies, for instance of the broken window theory, have provided evidence that physical disorder is an environmental correlate of crime. This includes broken windows, vacant/abandoned housings, abandoned cars on street, graffiti, and decayed street lighting, among other things. However, research into these issues is hampered by the difficulty involved in collecting fine-scale quantitative environmental data. The conventional environmental audit approach, which aims to assess environmental features, is costly, time-consuming, and burdensome. To alleviate this, we use Google Street View to study the relationship between violent crime and physical features of urban residential environment. More concretely, a Poisson regression model with spatial filtering is used to identify socio-economic correlates of violent crime. Parting from the hypothesis that omission of built environmental factors results in systematic residual pattern, we proceed to analyze the spatial filter to select sites for virtual environmental audits. A series of physical environmental factors are identified using contingency table analysis. The results provide both theoretical and practical implications for several theories of crime and crime prevention efforts.

Antonio Páez is Professor at the School of Geography and Earth Sciences at McMaster University. His primary research interests are in the fields of travel behavior, spatial analysis, and transportation systems. He has published extensively in the international literature, in journals that include the Journal of Transport Geography, Environment and Planning A, Urban Studies, Transportation Research Part A – Policy and Practice, Journal of Geographical Systems, and Transportation. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Geographical Systems and as Associate Editor of Papers in Regional Science.

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