Spatial Analysis of Urban Decline: The Geography of Blight
Geographic Information Systems
Urban studies literature suggests that anti-blight resources are frequently deployed in arbitrary fashions for short-term political objectives, rather than in concentrated, empirically-driven ways intended to manage complex urban problems. This creates an ambiguous and subjective conceptualization of blight in practice, which often leads to mismatches between actual urban conditions and codified public policy targets. Therefore, this research points to the practical need for an operational definition of blight. It is reasonable to assume that focusing anti-blight efforts in spaces identified using empirical data will increase the efficiency of a city's policy efforts. To that end this paper quantifies blight with an approach that is replicable by virtually any city in the United States. We then examine blight patterns for a selected city using spatial clustering methods that highlight areas where policy intervention might be warranted. The findings demonstrate how spatial analysis combined with contextual urban geographic information can assist local policymakers in identifying and understanding the geographies of blight in their municipalities.
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