The UTC Office welcomed Dr. Lisa Schweitzer to host a guest lecture for faculty and students participating in UTC sponsored research as well as students and professors from Community and Regional Planning and Civil Engineering as a part of education and outreach efforts. Dr. Schweitzer is a Professor at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy in Los Angeles who specializes in urban studies, analyses of social justice, environment, and transport. Her emerging work asks the following question: Do people notice the same thing about transit station areas that urban designers and planners emphasize about those station areas?
Her current work explores how social media users engage with public transit stations through their camera phones. Dr. Schweitzer uses several methods to review the images she references including Yelp, Instagram, and archival data. Speaking about her current home city of Los Angeles, she highlighted the major types of images posted of and georeferenced at transit stations: screens and signs, people in the space, and public art.
Dr. Schweitzer has inventoried hundreds of images and has discovered several findings in her preliminary research. Pubic art makes up 13% of the photos that she has in her inventory. Of the artworks photographed, Dr. Schweitzer notes that there are more works by male artists than there are for female artists, however the female artists are cited twice as frequently as male artists on Yelp and Instagram. She also notes other categories of data including maps and signage (14%), platforms and people (25%), architecture (30%), and animals (5%). Schweitzer also noted that many of the images are racialized based on geographic location. These images show policemen patrolling transit stations, candid photos of arrests, tagging (or graffiti), and a plethora of litter strewn about the rail cars. She notes how none of these problems are exclusive to the Blue Line, and yet 50% of the photos on the Blue Line reflect these scenes.
The discussion at this event moved into an interesting question and answer session, in which Dr. Schweitzer has reflected on and discussed the unique research potential and interesting applications of this work.
Dr. Schweitzer maintains a blog about sustainable urbanism at www.lisaschweitzer.com.