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Art and Engineering Intersect In Akron Walkability Mapping Project

photo of University of Akron students
University of Akron students Scott Salerno (left), Amanda O'Reilly, and Clark Bates started mapping their neighborhood -- University Park -- last year to record GIS data on street condition, perceived safety, and how much litter is present.

A project to learn what's needed to make one Akron neighborhood more pleasant to walk around is nearing completion.

Artist Mac Love toured every street in Akron two years ago as he began looking for ways to re-connect residents to their neighborhoods. He wrote down observations about things like road quality and building upkeep. And then, he approached city officials with a plan to objectively rank those features using a Geographic Information System – or GIS – app.

Now, he’s leading a team of engineering students from the University of Akron who are rating different aspects of every intersection in University Park.

“Road conditions, sidewalk conditions, the greenery, the buildings that are around the area, the amount of litter that’s in the environment, the perception of safety at each intersection, and also the visibility.”

Love says he wants to eventually use these methods – along with an app -- to allow residents to collect and report data about their own neighborhoods.

“We do not want this to be a tool for people to just vent and to complain. This is a tool for looking at everything through a clear, objective lens and making a scientific evaluation of what areas need to be addressed or prioritized.”

Love says his team will use the data to deliver a report next month on how to improve walkability in University Park – something he then hopes to do in every Akron neighborhood.