Research suggests children's neighborhoods matter for their developmental outcomes, and yet there are few tools available for quantifying community characteristics. Together with Terri Sabol at Northwestern University, our team is adapting an existing Systematic Social Observation (SSO) protocol to assess the characteristics of preschool neighborhoods and school grounds. This tool, which we call the internet-based School Neighborhood Assessment Protocol (iSNAP), provides a low-cost, reliable measurement tool that allows researchers to take a “virtual” walk through neighborhoods using publicly available neighborhood imaging (i.e., Google Street View). Doing so provides a more nuanced perspective on children's lived experiences in their neighborhoods relative to existing metrics (e.g., Census data).
The iSNAP has been piloted in 9 US cities, as well as in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. To access the iSNAP and accompanying materials, please visit our website.