A) Survey Progress:
Last Sunday we went down to San Jose to gather more survey data at the Tet Festival. Our goal was to target the Vietnamese demographics of San Jose. With the help of our coordinators, we secured a booth representing the Environmental Services Department of the City of San Jose. We arrived at the Fairgrounds at 4:30pm just as dark clouds started to roll over and wind began to pick up. We saw a lot of people streaming out the exit of the Fairgrounds. Luckily once we picked up our surveys at the entrance and went inside the convention center where the main activities were located, we found there were still hundreds of people inside listening to a concert.
At the beginning, we both tried approaching people separately to engage them about HHW and encourage them to take our survey, but a trend quickly arose. As soon as Adam began speaking, most of the festival visitors immediately became standoffish. Out of all the people Adam approached, only one man—who was clearly completely comfortable speaking English and was in fact manning another booth—ended up filling out the survey. The obvious racial disconnect, further heightened by the culturally specific nature of the event, proved to pose a huge barrier to people’s willingness to engage. On the other hand, when Aitran approached people, speaking Vietnamese, people were more willing to talk and open to taking our survey. Some people who were particularly interested spent as long as 30 minutes talking with her about HHW, recycling, and activism in the younger generations in general. This pattern soon became clear to both of us, so we divided up tasks: Aitran continued talking to visitors and encouraging them to take our survey, while Adam handed out fliers to passers by. If he just smiled and offered a flier, most people were completely willing to take it, and would even read it as they kept walking, looking sincerely interested in the information that it contained. Therefore, our efforts were maximized as we diversified our roles with Aitran obtaining survey data for later analysis and Adam distributing materials to educate the public and help address the problem of HHW that is currently sitting around in people’s homes. Overall, the trip was certainly a success. We spent roughly two hours surveying and completed 25 surveys.
Our last community event is on Saturday Feb. 28th at the San Jose Earthquakes soccer game. The game starts at 2pm, so we will arrive at 11:30am and help operate a city booth from 12-2pm. We plan to survey as well as present fans a static map of the retail drop-off locations and ask for their feedback. Afterwards, we will head over to the flea market and try to get some more surveys before we return to campus.
B) GIS Map:
On Wednesday, we visited the GIS library and met with Yari. She showed us how to import our Excel database to ARC Map. We experienced some technical glitches connecting to the network as well as making our data compatible with ARC Map language. Fortunately after multiple tries, all but 15 of our retail drop-off sites showed up as points on the map. Yari told us that 498/513 is a very good turnout. We can manually input the rest of the remaining sites. She also showed us how to customize our map by creating filters and color-coding our points. By the GIS session on Monday, we will have made the necessary Excel revisions and be ready to develop a more advanced map. Our coordinators Lauren and Alana are working with the Country of Santa Clara to see if this final products can be embedded in the Household Hazardous Waste website.
Update on Project Activities
This past Thursday we met with David Medeiros at the Geospatial Center and made great strides in finalizing what the mapping aspect of our project will look like. We made a preliminary map – the first of what will in all likelihood be many iterations – that simply layered over a parcel map of Oakland that parcels that were identified as Soft Story. While simple in scale, this was a great experience in familiarizing ourselves with the GIS programs.
At the moment, we have much data that we did not yet use in mapping. The sheets that Dana Brechwald sent us are rich in material. However, as Jack noted, we do not as of yet have any data about seismic activity in the region, so we are hoping to find that either via the USGS or potentially Camilo will have a way of acquiring it. Once we have that data, we plan to establish our Vulnerability Metric and generate some kind of heat map detailing which areas are most at risk. And then, by zooming in, one will be able to see which specific parcels are the most vulnerable. We hope to have a fairly finalized map by the end of next week.
Apart from the map, this week we continued working on our project’s website. Having chosen SquareSpace due to its wonderfully user-friendly interface, we began experimenting with formatting and design options. Thus far we have created our home-page and a few drop down menus, but are still deciding what information we want to relay and how best to go about doing so. The city of Oakland sent a postcard to each soft story home a few weeks ago in order to provide information and spread awareness to these residents. However, as a group, we believed the postcard to be both too passive and lacking in immediacy, a problem which we hope to ameliorate with our website. Yet it is a fine line we must walk between being alerting the public that they may be living in, as a participant at one of the community meetings put it, “a ticking time bomb” and being alarmist. The content of the website is to be an ongoing question.
What We Observed and Learned
On Monday we brainstormed about interesting questions that might come up from the preliminary data obtained from the surveys made by the City of Oakland. We expected to be able to find patterns that related socio-economic aspects with people’s preferences and attitudes towards risk, as well as other interesting ways of filtering information beyond the summary provided by our partners. For instance, one question in the survey asked about the level of acceptable damage, or conversely, the level to which people expect the building to comply seismically (this is, whether it will experience minor damage, extensive damage, etc.) and we decided to separate what tenants and owners thought about it. In all cases (tenants, owners, or the whole group), the majority prefers the category “Building will experience damage and disruption to utilities, but no significant damage and it can be occupied during repair”. There were some differences on the percentages, for example showing some 4% of tenants preferring significant damage (vs.less than 2% of owners in that category), which makes sense since, as long as they survive, it is not their investment under risk of loss. However, these numbers are not so directly comparable since very few owners answered the question compared to the number of tenants, which is also an issue on several questions we intended to break down.
A simpler question we thought would be interesting to extract from the database was about the outreach strategy that can be associated with those residents that identified themselves as wanting to keep involved and informed about the program (see figure below). It turns out that most individuals who want to stay connected (roughly 80%), were reached by either postcard delivery to their address or the Yahoo-Groups database the City of Oakland had. We found this a bit surprising since the postcard does not bring much information (or we didn’t find it particularly engaging), but it may be too early to draw conclusions since only a limited amount of residents have responded so far.
On Thursday we convened at the Geospatial Lab in the Earth Sciences library, to begin generating content for our GIS analysis as well as learning the basics of creating a layered map. With David’s help, we set up a project folder and added two layers of mapping data, very simply showing the parcels of land and the locations of the soft story buildings. We learned about the data already present in the GIS database, and how to clean data tables within GIS to make cross-data comparisons.
Through our analysis of outreach data we were able to glean a significant amount of initial results that will be useful for our policy recommendations. However, a lot of these results are not all too different from results that could be determined from Victoria’s initial attempts at analysis; the primary difference being that we got results exclusively for landlords and tenants, a broad categorization we deemed particularly relevant. Our next steps at analyzing our data will be to brainstorm questions that probe a little deeper into demographic differences and how that impacts people’s opinions on retrofitting policy. In trying to understand the impact of gentrification/short term housing on willingness to retrofit, we will try and ask how the amount of time you have lived in a unit and plan on living in said unit impact your decision to quickly and efficiently take steps to retrofit. We also want to try and understand how income level impacts both tenants’ and landlords’ willingness to take on costs or how they perceive an equitable distribution of funding (e.g. small vs. large buildings, poor tenants vs. poor landlords). Ultimately, these next few weeks we hope to gain an even more nuanced understanding of how demographics impact people’s engagement with retrofitting, in an attempt to try and recommend policies/incentives that would help the city be more efficient in pushing for retrofitting.
This week was the first time we had access to all the data necessary to begin our mapping project. We made good progress, laying out initial location and parcel data to begin the mapping process, but their still remain a few critical steps to go. Our ultimate goal is to overlay the pre-existing vulnerability data provided to us by ABAG on top of our existing map so that we can identify particularly vulnerable soft-story regions. Once this has been done we also plan on creating a few maps that zoom into these vulnerable regions, so policy-makers can see what the density of soft story housing is like there.
From the spreadsheet defining the soft-story building descriptions, we realized that we have different potential factors that could lead to fragile structural behaviors. First, the year of construction of the building relates to the kind of wood material the building has. Given that the seismic codes and requirements have evolved and improved with the years, it is evident the direct relation between structural safety and new engineering practices. Second, the wall density (relation between the amount of walls and total constructed area) plays also an important role; there are buildings with only a few walls that make the structure potentially unsafe, and given that we are looking specifically at soft-story buildings, which by definition have some missing walls in the first floor, this parameter is fundamental. Third, the number of stories has a significant impact on the behavior of the soft story buildings because we are expecting damage concentration on the first floor, which is supporting the weight of all the floors above it. Finally, the geometric irregularities (if walls are particularly concentrated in certain places rather than more or less equally distributed along the area of the building) in the buildings could also have a major impact on the building vulnerability. To evaluate the extend at which these parameters play a role in our analysis, we will model some extreme cases using FEM807 (maximum and minimum number of stories, oldest and newest year of construction, etc), which can give us a fair idea of how vulnerable the buildings are. We would like to analyse more buildings but given the time constraints, and limited information about the buildings, this may not be feasible. However, if we are able to find buildings that can clearly be identified as having an extraordinary amount of risk we would like to point those out on our map.
Our website, to be made on SquareSpace, will contain a condensed and user-oriented version of the City of Oakland’s existing Soft story page, in which we will add our own analysis and data work for the use of the Oakland Resilience Team. Our policy recommendations, as well as our ArcGIS analysis will remain partitioned from the rest of the content, so that it can be removed by the city of Oakland’s staff, should they want to use the website for outreach. We will also include a section on future work, so that we may describe how future Stanford students may contribute to the City of Oakland’s ongoing work.
Update on Project Activities
Our main goal this week was to collect surveys, we focused on two main locations: Palo Alto Transit Center and San Jose Diridon transit center. Because our surveys were printed and the answers were pretty quick and easy to collect, we decided to go surveying on our own instead of pairs. That enabled us to go surveying whenever we had free time in our personal weekly schedule.
Surveying was a great experience and I think all of us got some funny stories about the people they surveyed. It was nice to go out and talk to people, and hear their stories as well as their various ideas. Some people were really curious about what we were doing and all of them agreed that public transit could be better! Overall I think we all enjoyed this experience.
What We Observed and Learned about Surveying
We ran into some different difficulties: some people didn’t have the time or were not willing to answer a survey:” I am not the kind of guy that answers questions, find someone else…” but most of people are happy to help and take 5 minutes of their time.
The other concern we had at the two locations was where to survey. In Palo Alto for instance, the bus arrive and leave pretty frequently so you have to check schedules to survey people and there are not that many people waiting. But at the Caltrain station during rush hour, you can meet people working at Stanford (that are subsidized and do not represent the classic population we want to survey) or wealthy individuals, who are not part of the population we are targeting.
At San Jose, we were targeting people taking the 522/22 buses but the stops for these lines were not in the middle of the transit center so there were not that many people waiting so surveying at the transit center was better. Like in Palo Alto and the presence of the Marguerite, SJSU free buses skewed the answers to some of our questions. We kept contact with our community partners to explain the different issues we were having and to understand the best ways to tackle them.
Finally, it’s hard to know when the best time to survey is: there are a lot of people during rush hours but service is more frequent so you don’t have enough time to survey people and you get incomplete data. When you are not in rush hours, in San Jose for example, you don’t meet a lot of people and you are more likely to meet people that don’t often commute or don’t live in the area. Still, we were able to complete about 35 surveys this week and are planning to make a big push to meet our goal of 50 soon.
Another big thing that we had to deal with was that, although we had a Spanish version of our survey, we still wanted to interact with the person we were surveying and for those of us who don’t speak Spanish perfectly, it was quite a challenge. Moreover, some people we surveyed in Spanish could not understand certain questions or did not want to answer some of them (and when you cannot communicate, you cannot fix the problem). We especially had a lot of blanks left on the online surveys for our question on annual income, even though our survey was anonymous and we clearly indicated it in the survey. This is a huge concern because our goal is to show that low income people would benefit from measures to improve transfers. Not having this data could really affect our findings and our ability to make the point we are trying to make.
We already had some online surveys answers: thanks to the organizations we are working with on campus (such as Habla) and to our community partners that were incredibly active this week. We will also get some surveys back from Charisse that we have to fill into our google forms so that we can analyze them.
One other thing we did this week was to decide that we will create our website with weebly as suggested by Deland. Weebly is easy to use and the different examples we were able to find matched perfectly with what we want to do. We trained on weebly by trying to add pages, menus, photos, just to have a sense of how the thing are working so that we will be ready to fully begin our website in the next week.
Moving forward, we are meeting on Sunday to begin the data analysis and have a first look at the different trends that we can detect in the data. We will then have a conference call with our community partners to discuss the data we have collected and discuss the data analysis further. Next week we will focus on data analysis and we will begin to work on both the website and the final presentation. We have to decide how we are going to show the different trends we will observe: plots, different tables, graphs and how to implement that in the website and the presentation. We also have to work out with our community partners how to make the best of the data we collected and how they could use it in the future for different projects.
What we are doing:
This week we’ve continued to work on branding. Using the information we gained from the focus group last week regarding the draft of the logo we presented, we created updated drafts of the logo to be sent to Janice. Using the prefered blue/orange color scheme, we altered the font to be a bit less complicated and more readable, and incorporated the SFBC chain symbol into the drafts. Two of the four updated drafts are attached. We sent these updated versions to Janice and requested that she circulate them within the SFBC office, and ask for feedback. We specifically want to hear back on the following: color scheme, font, and symbol colors/size.
We want to make it clear that this is just a draft and that all comments are welcome. We hope that people will have constructive commentary that will help us as we compile future drafts.
Another thing we did this week regarding branding was synthesize the data that we got from the focus groups about merchandise that the participants are most interested in receiving. We asked them to choose and rank as many preferences as they wanted to out of a list we compiled of popular items. The list of items and the votes they received is as follows:
T-shirts (6 votes)
Bike Seat Covers
Stickers (5 votes)
Baseball Caps i
Water Bottles (6 votes)
Helmet (2 votes)
Totes (5 votes)
Fanny Packs (2 votes)
Jacket/Hoodie (focus group member addition) (2 votes)
Gloves (member addition) (1 vote)
The top choices were T-shirts, Water Bottles, Stickers, Totes. We’ll keep this in mind as we continue to develop the logo and think about the future of our branding efforts.
This week we started pulling the survey data needed for the GIS map analysis and compiling it in it's own document. The data encompasses bike commute starting points, end points, and any other route specific information the members provided. This data will be used only for the GIS map and internally with the SFBC so we are taking the necessary steps to maintaining privacy. We are also looking at data sources to create the neighborhood layer in the GIS map since SF has very unique and distinct neighborhoods that aren't necessarily defined by the city maps. We have done some research and with the help of Janice to make sure our map accurately and effectively reflects the integrity of the San Francisco neighborhoods.
For the data analysis, we are starting to look for key themes represented in the survey responses and will be further analyzing the data in comparison to the annual SFBC member survey to see if there are any changes or trends.
We have also started working on the Website. We talked to the SFBC about adding a women bike SF tab to their website, but they said their website editing software is too complicated so we decided to create our own website as a mockup of what the women bike SF tab could be. We looked at some reviews on two free websites hosting sites (weebly and squarespace) and decided on using squarespace. We have officially created a domain: WBSF.SQUARESPACE.COM. We have decided on what we are going to include in the website. For now we will include our ArcGIS map, our recommendation paper, background information about our project, and include the branding we have made. We have some aesthetic concerns about the website. We don’t have a lot of pictures of our group and we didn’t take too many pictures in San Francisco so we may need to borrow some of the SFBC’s pictures.
What are we doing next:
Regarding branding, we hope to hear back from Janice and the SFBC staff soon, and to use their feedback to further refine the logo. We also plan to get in touch with a few professional graphic designers in the later stages to provide feedback and help us finalize the logos. We also plan to begin drafting copy for the SFBC website that will be uploaded once they create a Women Bike SF section. We plan to begin working on a mission statement, as well as compiling information about the work/outreach that the initiative is doing.
The basic structure and major content of the website should be done by the end of next week.
We will continue with a more in depth analysis and incorporate a cross question analysis as well. We will compile our findings and potentially create visually representations such as graphs and figures to include in our final recommendation report to the SFBC.
On Monday, of the upcoming week, we will start inputting out data into the arcGIS software to provide more interpretations of the bike commute routes and identifying the neighborhoods that the SFBC should reach out to in their advocacy efforts.
Update on Project Activities
As illustrated by our blog post from last week, we came in to this week feeling uneasy about the quantity of data that we have been able to collect thus far. We felt as if the quality of the data is high, but didn’t know if the low number of responses would somehow discredit that quality. Another insecurity that we were experiencing was that the data that we were receiving told a different story than we had originally anticipated. We had a brief meeting with Deland to express and work through some of these insecurities. She assured us that the work that we were doing would retain its impact and importance despite low response rate and that data points we had were indeed telling a story with heavy social implications.
We also scheduled a meeting with Jason, our community partner for Thursday afternoon. Because of traffic accidents and similar addresses in neighboring towns, we were not able to meet up with Jason in person. Instead, we took this opportunity with the three us all being together and Jason being free to have a very productive conference call. We updated him on how data collection was going and expressed our opinions about changing what our end deliverables will look like. Our team has had similar thoughts about the fact that the data we are receiving isn’t best depicted by a map illustrating movement as we previously thought. Luckily he was open to the idea of changing the deliverable to best display our data. We had previously planned to be done with data collection last week, but we decided with Jason’s endorsement to carry out making calls in to the early parts of next week to get any last minute data points.
What We Observed/Learned
This week we learned just how much the formation of expectations and unconscious biases can shape the process and products of a project. Because we had set such clear expectations for the end products of this project, the fact that we are most likely not going to be able to meet those goals feels disappointing. However, we have decided that being flexible to our plan and tailoring the deliverables to best suit the needs of the data, emphasizes the authenticity of the information we are presenting.
Ironically, this shift in the direction of the project is almost refreshing because it validates the importance of on-the-ground data collection and the fact that the only way to understand what a community is actually facing, apart from broad generalizations or predictions, is to ask those directly involved. It is easy for us, as outsiders, to impose our own opinions on to the situation and find “evidence” to support our claim, but when you let the people in the community dictate where the project is headed, you’re headed toward making a more significant social impact.
At the start of this project, our group was set on letting the data speak for itself, apart from personal narratives because that is what we believed would be most convincing to policymakers and local governments. However, because we have come to realize that our project has different implications that we first expected it to, we are beginning to understand the value of coupling raw data with the stories of the people that provided it. How you choose to present data is just as important as collecting it because the way that people interpret data is far from objective. This realization could promote stronger community engagement by emphasizing the human aspect of this project in putting faces to this cause.