What is the purpose for the pole in this picture? Notice that others exist across the street, and indeed, stretch on for blocks in this neighborhood. Yet in your neighborhood, none may exist.
What else do you notice in the picture? What kind of houses do people live in, and what might the inhabitants be like? What does the vegetation imply about this area’s ecoregion? When were the houses constructed, and how has the area changed over time? The term “neighborhood” implies being near residents who are considered “neighbors.” How large of an area do you consider to be your neighborhood? Does the area that we define as our neighborhoods change as we grow older? Do you believe that a neighborhood’s size depends on our primary mode of transportation? What influence does rural or urban have on neighborhood size? What natural or human-made features influence what you consider to be your neighborhood boundaries?
How could you use GIS to examine your neighborhood? Begin by examining topographic maps and satellite imagery using ArcGIS Online (http://www.arcgis.com). Add demographic data to your map and examine variables such as age, income, and ethnicity, as shown below. Examine lifestyle measures online (http://www.esri.com/data/esri_data/tapestry.html). Compare your neighborhood to others nearby or far away. GIS offers a rich toolkit for neighborhood analysis, and your investigation could continue through the examination of spatial statistics in ArcGIS Desktop.
That pole? It is a plow stake, placed there every autumn so that in this area, which lacks sidewalks or curbs, snowplow drivers will know where the edge of the pavement is. Knowing this, and considering your earlier observations, where do you think this photograph was taken? I will post a comment to this blog entry after I have given you time to guess.
Consider asking your students what makes their own neighborhoods unique, and use GIS to investigate the fascinating stories that their replies will lead to.
- Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager