Carnegie Mellon University

Lunch and Learn Feb 3

Metro21 Lunch and Learn - Methodical Framework and Feasibility Study to Assess Social Equity Impacts of the Built Environment

On Wednesday, February 3, 2021 Metro21 hosted Daniel Armanios to discuss, "Methodical Framework and Feasibility Study to Assess Social Equity Impacts of the Built Environment."

Civil engineers recognize the need to better address the potential consequences of infrastructure systems on social equity. However, the challenge has been translating social equity concerns into metrics that are usable in engineering analyses. In this case study, the authors aim to identify such metrics that can be subsequently used by engineers who seek to make equity-informed infrastructure construction, replacement, and rehabilitation decisions. Combining geospatial and statistical techniques on publicly available data sources, this research proposes a quantitative framework for how to incorporate social equity metrics into infrastructure analyses. The feasibility of this framework is analyzed in the case of Pennsylvania’s bridge system. This feasibility study finds that selection effects (i.e., factors that drive bridge siting) are stronger than treatment effects (i.e., changes that occur after bridge construction) of bridges on social equity. Consistent variables are also identified as correlated with such effects (e.g., demographic and, to a lesser degree, family variables). Overall, this research proposes measures and an approach that helps local government transportation agencies better incorporate social equity into infrastructure construction, replacement and rehabilitation.