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Mapping the Hidden Hazards: Community-Led Spatial Data Collection of Street-Level Environmental Stressors in a Degraded, Urban Watershed

1
Department of Public Health, Agnes Scott College, 141 E. College Avenue, Decatur, GA 30030, USA
2
Department of Sociology, University of Central Florida, 4000 Central Florida Blvd., Phillips Hall, Room 403-P, Orlando, FL 32816, USA
3
Department of Geosciences, Georgia State University, 24 Peachtree Center Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA 30302, USA
4
Division of Environmental Health, Georgia State University School of Public Health, P.O. Box 3995, Atlanta, GA 30302, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(4), 825; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15040825
Received: 1 January 2018 / Revised: 11 April 2018 / Accepted: 13 April 2018 / Published: 22 April 2018
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Abstract

We utilized a participatory mapping approach to collect point locations, photographs, and descriptive data about select built environment stressors identified and prioritized by community residents living in the Proctor Creek Watershed, a degraded, urban watershed in Northwest Atlanta, Georgia. Residents (watershed researchers) used an indicator identification framework to select three watershed stressors that influence urban livability: standing water, illegal dumping on land and in surface water, and faulty stormwater infrastructure. Through a community–university partnership and using Geographic Information Systems and digital mapping tools, watershed researchers and university students designed a mobile application (app) that enabled them to collect data associated with these stressors to create a spatial narrative, informed by local community knowledge, that offers visual documentation and representation of community conditions that negatively influence the environment, health, and quality of life in urban areas. By elevating the local knowledge and lived experience of community residents and codeveloping a relevant data collection tool, community residents generated fine-grained, street-level, actionable data. This process helped to fill gaps in publicly available datasets about environmental hazards in their watershed and helped residents initiate solution-oriented dialogue with government officials to address problem areas. We demonstrate that community-based knowledge can contribute to and extend scientific inquiry, as well as help communities to advance environmental justice and leverage opportunities for remediation and policy change. View Full-Text
Keywords: participatory mapping; community GIS; participatory GIS; community-based participatory research (CBPR); Proctor Creek; Atlanta; GA participatory mapping; community GIS; participatory GIS; community-based participatory research (CBPR); Proctor Creek; Atlanta; GA
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Jelks, N.O.; Hawthorne, T.L.; Dai, D.; Fuller, C.H.; Stauber, C. Mapping the Hidden Hazards: Community-Led Spatial Data Collection of Street-Level Environmental Stressors in a Degraded, Urban Watershed. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 825.

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