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This Week's Finds in Planning is the blog of Martin Krieger, Professor of Planning at the University of Southern California's School of Policy, Planning, and Development.

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Doing a Windshield Survey (Street View on the Cheap), with a GPS-equipped Smartphone or Digital Camera.

(Supported by a grant from the Center for Social Innovation at the Sol Price School of Public Policy of the University of Southern California) Martin H. Krieger is a professor in the Price School. Sample spreadsheets are available from the author.
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It might appear that Google Street View has superseded windshield surveys. But if you want to be current, if you want to see the people on the street, and if you know that only by going out and looking will you really have a sense of a place, you have to do it yourself. I have been documenting the City Heights neighborhood in San Diego, and here are the lessons from my practice. Except for Photoshop, the programs are free. Fusion Tables requires you have a Google account or email address.
1. Ideally, your camera or smartphone (anything over 5 Mpixels should be OK) not only has GPS but also the compass direction of your camera. Be sure the GPS is fully engaged, since it takes time to get settled.
2. As you walk around or drive around, explore alleys, peek over fences, etc. You can look where Google could not. What is most striking about this neighborhood are the natural canyons (it is City Heights) and the ubiquitous alleyways.
3. When you get home, exporting from your camera, you will have a file of digital images with EXIF metadata. You can copy that metadata using BR's Exif Extractor, which will produce a spreadsheet (perhaps in .csv form) with each image's number or name, date and time, latitude and longitude, perhaps height above sea level, camera direction, and other data not relevant here.
Pic Date/time Lat Long Direction URL
084.jpg 31-May-13 32.74963 -117.092 180 http://1000eyes.usc.edu/martin/CityHeights/084.jpg

085.jpg 31-May-13 32.74963 -117.093 230 http://1000eyes.usc.edu/martin/CityHeights/085.jpg
087.jpg 31-May-13 32.74963 -117.093 180 http://1000eyes.usc.edu/martin/CityHeights/087.jpg
088.jpg 31-May-13 32.74963 -117.094 230 http://1000eyes.usc.edu/martin/CityHeights/088.jpg
089.jpg 31-May-13 32.74963 -117.094 230 http://1000eyes.usc.edu/martin/CityHeights/089.jpg
091.jpg 31-May-13 32.74963 -117.094 230 http://1000eyes.usc.edu/martin/CityHeights/091.jpg
092.jpg 31-May-13 32.74963 -117.095 230 http://1000eyes.usc.edu/martin/CityHeights/092.jpg
093.jpg 31-May-13 32.74963 -117.096 230 http://1000eyes.usc.edu/martin/CityHeights/093.jpg
094.jpg 31-May-13 32.74963 -117.097 230 http://1000eyes.usc.edu/martin/CityHeights/094.jpg
095.jpg 31-May-13 32.74963 -117.096 239 http://1000eyes.usc.edu/martin/CityHeights/095.jpg

Caption: Output of BR's Exif Extractor, plus hyperlink column made with CONCAT function.
4. You can get the street addresses (of where you took the picture from) using a reverse geocoding program. . I have a found a place that has a nice front end using Google's API to do this. http://www.doogal.co.uk/BatchReverseGeocoding.php
5. If you store the images in some website (perhaps in a smaller .jpeg quality for speed of retrieval), they will be readily available on the spreadsheet if you make up a url, http://www.storage.com/.../Num.jpg. This is an easy CONCATENATION function in Excel: "the beginning of the url", and the image Number. You then convert these to active hyperlinks using the Excel HYPERLINK function.
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6. With this Spreadsheet, go to Google Fusion Tables, import the Spreadsheet, and a few clicks later you have a map, where if you click on a site, you can easily have the image come up. You want an Eight-line image in the format for the URL column. (Playing with the bubble HTML can make it more suited to your needs. See Figure 2.) I have set up different color markers for the different directions of camera pointing. (For #6, turn off the automatic recalculation--just use F9 when needed.)
My bubble HTML, and it refers to the spreadsheet views under #3 and #7.
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7. Under #5 is a Friendly Spreadsheet, hiding most of the information, adding in a way of calculating the latitudes and longitudes of a box around a point. Given the Lat/Long of a place and a radius of interest, it will readily find the images in that region. (The latitude has a full equatorial Earth of distance, while the longitude distance going around the Earth goes down as cosine(lat), so the same radius affects the longitude more.)

8. If you have all the images in a file, you can use Photoshop's Contact Sheet II function to make a "book" of all the images with captions containing their names. You take all the Contact Sheet pages in Photoshop, Save As .jpg's, and then using Word, Insert all these Pictures at one time.
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