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A Hybrid Tool for Visual Pollution Assessment in Urban Environments

Wakil, Khydija and Naeem, Malik Asghar and Anjum, Ghulam Abbas and Waheed, Abdul and Thaheem, Muhammad Jamaluddin and Hussnain, Muhammad Qadeer ul and Nawaz, Raheel (2019) A Hybrid Tool for Visual Pollution Assessment in Urban Environments. Sustainability, 11 (8). ISSN 2071-1050

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Abstract

With increasing focus on more nuanced aspects of quality of life, the phenomenon of urban visual pollution has been progressively gaining attention from researchers and policy makers, especially in the developed world. However, the subjectivity and complexity of assessing visual pollution in urban settings remain a challenge, especially given the lack of robust and reliable methods for quantification of visual pollution. This paper presents a novel systematic approach for the development of a robust Visual Pollution Assessment (VPA) tool. A key feature of our methodology is explicit and systematic incorporation of expert and public opinion for listing and ranking Visual Pollution Objects (VPOs). Moreover, our methodology deploys established empirical complex decision-making techniques to address the challenge of subjectivity in weighting the impact of individual VPOs. The resultant VPA tool uses close-ended options to capture the presence and characteristics of various VPOs on a given node. Based on these inputs, it calculates a point based visual pollution scorecard for the observation point. The performance of the VPA tool has been extensively tested and verified at various locations in Pakistan. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first such tool, both in terms of quantitative robustness and broad coverage of VPOs. Our VPA tool will help regulators in assessing and charting visual pollution in a consistent and objective manner. It will also help policy makers by providing an empirical basis for gathering evidence; hence facilitating evidence-based and evidence-driven policy strategies, which are likely to have significant impact, especially in the developing countries.

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