Why do some neighborhoods evolve and gentrify while others don’t? This fascinating story is about a joint research program between MIT and Harvard to identify what causes urban change. Tested with five American cities, this system quantifies the physical improvement or deterioration of neighborhoods. The early results are already surprising: “Contrary to popular belief, raw income levels and housing prices do not predict change in a neighborhood. Instead, it had more to do with other factors. The researchers found that the density of highly educated residents, proximity to central business districts or other physically attractive neighborhoods, and the initial safety score assigned by the computer vision system all lead to improvements in the physical condition.” This is the kind of research that we all should hope city planners and local governments will actually read and act upon.
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