Trust but Verify: Validating New Measures for Mapping Social Infrastructure in Cities

62 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2022

See all articles by Timothy Fraser

Timothy Fraser

Northeastern University; Northeastern University - College of Social Sciences and Humanities

Napuck Cherdchaiyapong

School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University

Winta Tekle

School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University

Erin Thomas

School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University

Joel Zayas

School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University

Courtney Page-Tan

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Department of Security and Emergency Services

Daniel P. Aldrich

Northeastern University - College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Security and Resilience Program

Date Written: March 24, 2022

Abstract

Scholars and policymakers increasingly recognize the value of social capital - the connections that generate and enable trust among people - in responding to and recovering from shocks and disasters. However, some communities have more social infrastructure, that is, sites that produce and maintain social capital, than others. Community centers, libraries, public pools, and parks serve as locations where people can gather, interact, and build social ties. Much research on urban spaces relies on Google maps because of its ubiquity and this article tests the degree to which it can accurately, reliably, and effectively capture social infrastructure. In this study, we map the social infrastructure of Boston using Google Maps Places API and then ground truth our measures, mapping social infrastructure on street corners with in-person site observations to evaluate the accuracy of available data. We find that though we may need to use multi-vectored measurement when trying to capture social infrastructure, Google maps serve as reliable measurements with a predictable, acceptable margin of error.

Keywords: social infrastructure, social capital, cities, GIS, big data

JEL Classification: O18, D71, H4, Z13, O2

Suggested Citation

Fraser, Timothy and Cherdchaiyapong, Napuck and Tekle, Winta and Thomas, Erin and Zayas, Joel and Tan, Courtney and Aldrich, Daniel P., Trust but Verify: Validating New Measures for Mapping Social Infrastructure in Cities (March 24, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4065162 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4065162

Timothy Fraser (Contact Author)

Northeastern University ( email )

360 Huntington Ave,
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Northeastern University - College of Social Sciences and Humanities ( email )

360 Huntington Ave,
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Napuck Cherdchaiyapong

School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University ( email )

220 B RP
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Winta Tekle

School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University ( email )

220 B RP
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Erin Thomas

School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University ( email )

220 B RP
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Joel Zayas

School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University ( email )

220 B RP
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Courtney Tan

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Department of Security and Emergency Services ( email )

United States

HOME PAGE: http://courtneypagetan.com

Daniel P. Aldrich

Northeastern University - College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Security and Resilience Program ( email )

360 Huntington Ave,
Boston, MA 02115
United States

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