How Useful Is GSV As an Environmental Observation Tool? An Analysis of the Evidence So Far

21 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2017 Last revised: 11 Mar 2018

See all articles by Katherine Nesse

Katherine Nesse

Seattle Pacific University

Leah Airt

Seattle Pacific University

Date Written: October 13, 2017

Abstract

Researchers in many disciplines have turned to Google Street View to replace pedestrian - or car based in-person observation of streetscapes. It is most prevalent within the research literature on the relationship between neighborhood environments and public health but has been used as diverse as disaster recovery, ecology and wildlife habitat, and urban design. Evaluations of the tool have found that the results of GSV-based observation are similar to the results from in-person observation although the similarity depends on the type of characteristic being observed. Larger, permanent and discrete features showed more consistency between the two methods and smaller, transient and judgmental features were less consistent.

There are some difficulties in using GSV for research purposes including: 1) the fixed point of view, 2) the processing, 3) the quality, and 4) the fixed point in time of the images.

These issues have had little discussion by researchers using GSV but could bias their results in some circumstances and therefore should be addressed by researchers using GSV.

Keywords: Google Street View, survey, public health, obesity, environment

Suggested Citation

Nesse, Katherine and Airt, Leah, How Useful Is GSV As an Environmental Observation Tool? An Analysis of the Evidence So Far (October 13, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3083699 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3083699

Katherine Nesse (Contact Author)

Seattle Pacific University ( email )

3307 Third Avenue West
Seattle, WA 98119-1997
United States

Leah Airt

Seattle Pacific University ( email )

3307 Third Avenue West
Seattle, WA 98119
United States

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