A team of students led by Dr. Jim Heffernan of the Nicholas School of the Environment, will use remote imagery and object identification tools to determine changes in parking lot occupancy in the Research Triangle region during the Covid-19 pandemic’s acute and post-acute phases. Students will use open-source geospatial data to select parking lots with a range of characteristics and apply existing vehicle identification algorithms to estimate occupancy rate during pre-pandemic, acute pandemic, and post-pandemic periods. Students will evaluate performance of those algorithms based on field observations, manual identification of vehicles from aerial photographs, and gate entry data. Comparisons across parking lots will help identify features associated with greater or lesser changes in parking lot use. Finally, students will generate data visualizations to communicate changes in parking lot usage. Ultimately, the goal of this project is to help inform better urban land choices that can improve the social character and economic activity of cities, while reducing environmental problems such as urban heat islands and runoff.
Project Lead: Jim Heffernan
Project Manager: Ben Weintraut