“Biophilic Cities”: Quantifying the Impact of Google Street View-Derived Greenspace Exposures on Socioeconomic Factors and Self-Reported Healthh

Anna C. O'Regan, Ruth F. Hunter, Marguerite M. Nyhan

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Abstract

According to the biophilia hypothesis, humans have evolved to prefer natural environments that are essential to their thriving. With urbanization occurring at an unprecedented rate globally, urban greenspace has gained increased attention due to its environmental, health, and socioeconomic benefits. To unlock its full potential, an increased understanding of greenspace metrics is urgently required. In this first-of-a-kind study, we quantified street-level greenspace using 751 644 Google Street View images and computer vision methods for 125 274 locations in Ireland’s major cities. We quantified population-weighted exposure to greenspace and investigated the impact of greenspace on health and socioeconomic determinants. To investigate the association between greenspace and self-reported health, a negative binomial regression analysis was applied. While controlling for other factors, an interquartile range increase in street-level greenspace was associated with a 2.78% increase in self-reported “good or very good” health [95% confidence interval: 2.25–3.31]. Additionally, we observed that populations in upper quartiles of greenspace exposure had higher levels of income and education than those in lower quartiles. This study provides groundbreaking insights into how urban greenspace can be quantified in unprecedented resolution, accuracy, and scale while also having important implications for urban planning and environmental health research and policy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9063–9073
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume55
Issue number13
Early online date23 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 06 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • Google Street View
  • normalized difference vegetation index
  • population-weighted exposure
  • public health
  • urban analytics
  • urban greenspace

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