Research Poverty 2018

Children growing up in poor versus affluent neighborhoods are more likely to spend time in prison, develop health problems and die at an early age. The question of how neighborhood conditions influence our behavior and health has attracted the attention of public health officials and scholars for generations. Online tools are now providing new opportunities to measure neighborhood features and may provide a cost effective way to advance our understanding of neighborhood effects on child health.

The community and its contest.
Alexandra, informally abbreviated to Alex, is a township in the Gauteng province of South Africa. It forms part of the city of Johannesburg and is located near the upper-class suburb of Sandton (Southern Africa’s richest mile). In contrast to Sandton, Alexandra is one of the poorest urban areas in the country. In addition to its original, reasonably well-built houses, it also has a large number (estimated at more than 20,000) of informal dwellings or "shacks". Alexandra was established in 1912, and has a rich political history within South Africa.

Aims and focus of the project.
With so many advances in technology new tools of assessment have become available for free to influence our research and design process. The aim of the project is to use a virtual systematic social observation (SSO) study to assess / test whether Google Street View could be used to reliably capture a neighbourhood’s conditions. From these mappings / assessments we will strategize and brainstorm some design solutions.

HOW WE HELPED

Our systematic social observation (SSO) through Google Street View and Survey data showed the following.

WASTE VS DUSTBINS
Insight - Not enough dustbins for the amount of waste
90% of streets are filled with waste
0% Recycling bins

INFORMAL VS FORMAL RESIDENTIAL
Insight - Did people map only formal because the rest were informal? However, it is observed that there is a high formal density in the north
89% Residential
83% of houses are in poor and deteriorating condition

INFORMAL VS FORMAL RETAIL
Insight - The mapping indicates a combination of formal retail with a high density of formal residential in the North of Alexandra
96% of the streets have Spaza shops (informal)

WHAT WE DID

Our assessments helped us strategize and brainstorm some design solutions.

As WASTE was an issue identified, design proposed the OPPORTUNITY for: Raising awareness – posters, campaigns, Recycling incentives

As EDUCATION was an issue identified, design proposed the OPPORTUNITY for: Skills development for teachers & Teacher training college

As HOUSING QUALITY was an issue identified, design proposed the OPPORTUNITY for: Densification, mixed use housing, re-design existing to maximize space

As RETAIL QUALITY was an issue identified, design proposed the OPPORTUNITY for: Zoned shopping areas (vacant lots)

As STREET QUALITY & SAFETY was an issue identified, design proposed the OPPORTUNITY for: Accurate census of working street lights