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Thread: Classifying urban decay

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    Classifying urban decay

    Hello All, I am working on a project with the intent of categorizing, block by block, all of the inner city structures in my hometown and then mapping everything in ArcGIS. I am wondering if anyone has done this before and if so, how did you classify the structures? I could do it subjectively but I was hoping someone knows of a list or checklist that I could use to grade with. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Abandoned
    Structurally Deficient
    Functionally Obsolete
    Structurally Sound
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Thanks for the grades

    With only a month to turn this in, this is exactly what I was looking for. Covers all the bases and keep my workload within the scope of the project. Appreciate it.

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    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
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    It's hard to judge the condition of a building just by looking at it unless the damage to it is pretty egregious. That said, the American Housing Survey tracks housing condition, though most of their variables relate to conditions inside the unit. The few that relate to exterior conditions of the structure are described below:

    "Outside structural conditions: These data are provided by observation. A sagging roof is reported if it is substantial and can be seen without climbing on the roof. Missing roof materials include rotted, broken or missing shingles, tiles, slates, etc. caused by extensive damage from fire, storm or serious neglect. Holes are reported if missing materials expose the inside of the unit to the elements. Missing materials on the walls and chimney do not have to expose the inside of the unit to the elements to be reported. The defects may have been caused by fire, storm, flood, neglect or vandalism. Boarded-up windows include both windows and doors which are covered by board, brick, metal or other material. Broken windows are reported if several panes are missing or broken. Foundation defects include large cracks, holes, and rooted, loose or missing material. None of the above defects are reported if the conditions are due to construction activities, unless it is obvious that the work has been abandoned."

    You can see the questions that go along with each data point at http://www.huduser.org/Datasets/ahs/AHS_Codebook.pdf. Most of the exterior variables under "unit quality" start with "E." The AHS boils down these variables into a three-category score: adequate, moderately inadequate, and severely inadequate (ZADEQ).

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    Thanks JimPlans plus follow-up question

    I was wondering if factors external to the structures are relevant, such as accumulated trash, abandoned vehicles, graffiti, overgrown lawns, etc. What is your opinion? I am trying to establish a baseline for documenting urban decay and I initially thought structures were the most important feature, but maybe it is an overall impression.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by turnbullr View post
    I was wondering if factors external to the structures are relevant, such as accumulated trash, abandoned vehicles, graffiti, overgrown lawns, etc. What is your opinion? I am trying to establish a baseline for documenting urban decay and I initially thought structures were the most important feature, but maybe it is an overall impression.
    It sounds to me like you're talking more about a windshield survey than a building condition census. There's a lot of information on these on the net, such as:

    http://www.planning.arizona.edu/proj...mm_chaptr3.pdf

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    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Detoit Planner has a good system. If you want to get ugly, APA has a use system that is btural, but complete.

    EDIT: Painfull brutal - go with Detroit's!

  8. #8
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Chet View post
    Detoit Planner has a good system. If you want to get ugly, APA has a use system that is btural, but complete.

    EDIT: Painfull brutal - go with Detroit's!
    Thanks I can remember seeing quite a few of these types of maps as an undergrad, but they had three categories. I adapted somewhat from what we use in transportation planning for bridges, and took deteriorated and made them more specific with structurally deficient (in bad shape) or functionally deficient (what the heck is this doing here).

    Only thing I can add it don't try to use too many categories or you will lost time in classifying. And for parcels, the less colors the better to show differences, stick to the primary colors, and use green for the fourth. Orange is too much like red and purple is too much like blue.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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