Donald Appleyard was a professor of Urban Design at the University of California, Berkeley. During his career he pursued a strong interest in the livability of cities and neighborhoods, particularly upon streets. In particular, he studied the social effects of traffic and neighborhood layout, and devised sensitive tools for the analysis of peoples' environmental perceptions.
In a groundbreaking study [streetfilms.org] conducted in 1969, Donald Appleyard provided the first emperical evidence of the impact of traffic on neighborhood streets. In particular, he investigated 3 different streets in San Francisco that were chosen to be as identical as possible in every dimension except for one - the amount of traffic on each street. The study was able to show that just the mere presence of cars, with their implied aspects of danger, noise and pollution, crushes the quality of life in neighborhoods.
As a way of investigation, Donals Appleyard used various visual graphics to both gather data as well as bring his results across. For instance, one chart conveys the social interactions on the 3 different streets, with each line denoting a unique connection between one person on the street and another. There are much fewer lines on the heavily traffic street as opposed to the moderate or the light traffic street, which clearly has a lot more interconnections. This chart also includes clusters of little dots that indicate where people physically gather. So it shows how on the heavily traffic street, there are a much smaller number of dots and there are only a handful of places where people would gather on their street.
Another chart plotted peoples' perception of their "home territory" on the 3 different streets. On the heavily traffic street, residents drew red rectangles which shows their apartment, or in some case, their whole building, as being their home territory. In contrast, on the lightly traffic street, most of the people are defining their entire street as their home territory, with some people highlighting their building or a slightly larger area.
Another part of the survey asked residents to freely draw an image of their street. On the heavily traffic street, they just drew the entirety of the street with very little in the way of details. In the moderately traffic street, people start drawing more details about the specific buildings. In the lightly traffic street, people start including details of buildings, plantings, and so on.
Does this use of mapping and visualization as a research medium sparked your interest? Watch a short documentary below, including some nicely updated versions of the maps.
Maybe this could be combined with Paint Attack?