Neighborhood Physical Disorder in New York City

J Maps. 2016;12(1):53-60. doi: 10.1080/17445647.2014.978910. Epub 2014 Nov 14.


Neighborhood physical disorder, or the deterioration of urban environments, is associated with negative mental and physical health outcomes. Eleven trained raters used CANVAS, a web-based system for conducting reliable virtual street audits, to collect data on nine indicators of physical disorder using Google Street View imagery of 532 block faces in New York City, New York, USA. We combined the block face indicator data into a disorder scale using item response theory; indicators ranged in severity from presence of litter, a weak indicator of disorder, to abandoned cars, a strong indicator. Using this scale, we estimated disorder at the center point of each sampled block. We then used ordinary kriging to interpolate estimates of disorder levels throughout the city. The resulting map condenses a complex estimation process into an interpretable visualization of the spatial distribution of physical disorder in New York City.