For Immediate Release
College of Environmental Design Professor of City & Regional Planning Karen Chapple was named a Fulbright Global Scholar for the 2017-2018 academic year, supporting six months in total of research at three different universities -- the University College London, the Polytechnic University of Madrid, and the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia -- to explore the feasibility of expanding the Urban Displacement Project, created by Professor Chapple and Dr. Miriam Zuk, to several different cities in Europe, Latin America, and the US. The current project is an online early warning system that aims to understand the nature of gentrification and displacement in the Bay Area. It focuses on creating tools to help communities identify the pressures surrounding them and take more effective action.
As new online early warning systems against gentrification have emerged in a handful of US cities, they have shown potential to both transform policies to stabilize and/or revitalize neighborhoods and to expand the “smart cities” movement beyond its current focus on efficiency to proactive policy-making around inclusion.
Replicating – and hopefully improving -- the Urban Displacement Project entails several different steps: developing relationships with local researchers, governments, and community organizations; gaining access to various forms of data; and refining its predictive analytics. Titled “Towards Smarter, More Inclusive Cities: The Urban Displacement Project 2.0,” Professor Chapple’s Fulbright proposal has two major goals: improving methodology and linking inclusive tools such as early warning systems into the burgeoning smart cities movement.
“First, I want to address the methodological problems in early warning systems via immersion in different urban contexts around the world. Residency at urban data science centers will expose me to different methodological approaches, such as machine learning and neural network computational systems, that may be able to improve on our statistical techniques,” Chapple wrote in her proposal. “Each city offers access to different types of data, including archival data, real-time indicators, and even user-generated or crowdsourced geographic content.”
Secondly, the three locations Professor Chapple has chosen are already experimenting in developing new smart city applications and systems, creating an opportunity to integrate early warning systems for displacement. Thus far, smart systems have only focused on improving the efficiency of city operations, without the social justice focus of earlier applications of data to cities.
“This project will help make clear the potential of neighborhood systems raising awareness and building momentum for policy change,” Chapple wrote. “If successful, the project will help develop new ways of tracking neighborhood change and directing it toward more inclusive outcomes.”
Ultimately, Professor Chapple hopes her research will benefit multiple actors, not just through built-out interactive websites highlighting her research findings, but also the process of developing the research design and preliminary analysis itself. Planning academics and practitioners can benefit from Chapple’s improved analytic models. Host institutions will benefit from Chapple’s research exploring different ways to integrate data and methods into local neighborhood change models.
Chapple feels she will bring back new ways of thinking about neighborhood change to UC Berkeley and the College of Environmental Design that she can apply to the Urban Displacement Program. “Most importantly, stakeholders in the various cities in our Bay Area model may begin to co-produce more effective policies to guide neighborhood change and mitigate displacement,” Chapple concluded.