How unequally is NYC designed? Buck wants locals to see for themselves

Buck and Transportation Alternatives makes it possible to compare spatial inequality by neighbourhood with a new 2D film and data-driven tool.

Date
27 October 2022

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Spatial inequality can have severe effects on health and wellbeing. It is also “the direct result of racist and classist policy decisions”, the Spacial Equity NYC site states. For example, in New York, if you compare 10 City Council districts with the largest populations of people of colour with 10 districts with the largest white populations, asthma rates go up by 96 per cent, streets with protected bike lines are 83 per cent fewer, and traffic injury rates are 58 per cent higher.

Spacial Equity NYC, a new tool from Transportation Alternatives, lets users compare this data to see how neighbourhoods are mapped unequally and how this affects health, safety and mobility. Creative-services company Buck has produced a 2D film and assets used across the tool to bring attention to this project. Buck is a member of Residence, the group of companies of which It’s Nice That is also a part.

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Buck: Spacial Equity NYC for Transportation Alternatives and MIT (Copyright © Buck / Spacial Equity NYC, 2022)

Through the film, Buck draws attention to the areas Spacial Equity NYC measures. For example, traffic volume, amount of protected bike lanes and land covered by tree canopy – a fact which impacts pollution and heat-related mortality – is visualised through animations comparing street views. The hope is that Spacial Equity NYC will ultimately make streets safer and fairer. Buck states: “The film uses dramatic lighting to help communicate its themes. There’s a dark, foreboding feeling to the setup of the city’s spatial problems, but as the film provides ideas and solutions, the lighting brightens, full of optimism and hope.”

Some of the groundwork for this visual approach came from a previous project; Buck’s Ege Soyeur collaborated with Transportation Alternatives on 25x25, a challenge that also proposed a reimagining of New York’s space. Using the 25x25 project as a “jumping off point”, Buck takes a pared-back approach to shapes. Environmental forms such as stairs or pedestrian crossings sometimes evoke data charts. This makes for seamless transitions within the film while emphasising how data has real-world impacts. Buck continues: “To add some warmth, we used subtle analogue textures to give it an inviting, hand-drawn feel.”

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Buck: Spacial Equity NYC for Transportation Alternatives and MIT (Copyright © Buck / Spacial Equity NYC, 2022)

Users can use Spacial Equity NYC to see community profiles on a particular district in New York City and see how it ranks by air or noise pollution, for example. It also lets you see city-wide data, ranking each of the districts by data such as the volume of benches in each.

The tool then directs New Yorkers to send a message to their City Council member, “asking them to push for policies that address the inequitable use of public space in your neighbourhood and city-wide,” the site says. Find out more about the new analysis from Transportation Alternatives and MIT detailing how spatial inequities contribute to racial and economic disparities in New York City here.

GalleryBuck: Spacial Equity NYC for Transportation Alternatives and MIT (Copyright © Buck / Spacial Equity NYC, 2022)

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Buck: Spacial Equity NYC for Transportation Alternatives and MIT (Copyright © Buck / Spacial Equity NYC, 2022)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating from the University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, Indie magazine and design studio Evermade.

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