A team of US scientists has created a web application that speeds up researchers' data collection.
The app called Computer Assisted Neighbourhood Visual Assessment System (CANVAS) literally eliminates the costly and time-consuming aspects of conducting research.
Researchers used the app to rate 150 different features of neighbourhoods in major metropolitan cities across the US.
The app makes use of Google Street View technology that links together images to create panoramic views of cities and rural areas.
"Before Google Street View, sociologists had to cover hundreds of square miles in neighbourhoods and painstakingly record visual details to answer research questions about gentrification, elders and healthy aging, and more," said Michael Bader, a professor from American University in Washington, DC.
"CANVAS takes Google Street View a step further by marrying its image data collection with Django software, providing a reliable, efficient and comprehensive tool for conducting sociological research on a large scale," Bader said.
Bader and his team hope to secure funding to develop the app into a product that sociologists everywhere can use.
"This will help us know what challenges elders face in D.C. and how feasible it is for elders to successfully age in place without facing major physical obstacles," Bader said.
The study appeared in the journal Health and Place.