Skip to main content
Skip to McMaster Navigation Skip to Site Navigation Skip to main content
McMaster logo
COVID-19 information and updates

Find the most recent updates here, as well as FAQs and information for students, faculty and staff.

Great Neighbourhoods Visualization Project

Hamilton has many great neighbourhoods, in all areas of the city.

One of the things that makes a neighbourhood great is its visual appeal. The buildings, landscaping, tree canopy, street activities, signage and commercial activities and other features are all things that make neighbourhoods appealing and memorable. 

In this project, we are using the brand new MUVR System (Mobile Urban Video Recording System) to capture a few seconds of video and audio on every street in Hamilton.

We are specifically interested in visual features of neighbourhood physical environments that make them good for kids and make their parents confident in the neighbourhood.

Such features include parks, the safety of crosswalks, streets and sidewalks, the presence of graffiti, houses and properties in disrepair and physical barriers like fences and hedges that can protect kids from danger.

The MUVR System

MUVR – the Mobile Urban Video Recording System. If you’ve heard about Google Streetview, it is very similar. The big difference is that the images MUVR collects will NOT be posted on the internet.

After we collect the video, we bring it back to the CRUNCH laboratory at McMaster and convert the images into scores summarizing neighbourhood features. These scores are then used to examine their relationship to important outcomes like healthy child development.

Data collections occurs Monday to Friday, between 9 AM and 3 PM, from May to October, when weather permits.


For the most part, with the resolution of our cameras, we will not be able to identify individuals that may be captured on the video. Still, all video records will be kept private on a secure, password-protected computer that is in a locked room, which is in a key-card access only laboratory. Access will only be available to the research team.

Occasionally we will make presentations or publish some images publicly (i.e. for educational purposes, conference presentations, publications, etc.), and when we do that, we will maintain people’s confidentiality by blurring out individual face, license plates and other unique features.         

Although we will protect peoples’ privacy as outlined above, if legal authorities request specific video data as evidence of a serious crime, we may be required to reveal it.

Benefits of the Research

What we learn in this research will help local and regional planning, and help to develop what our city needs to improve the quality of life and well-being of Hamilton.

We expect our findings will be important to governments, business associations, community groups and residents who seek to make their neighbourhoods the best places to live that they can be. We have relationships with many such groups, including Hamilton’s Neighbourhood Action Strategy, and we will make sure our findings are distributed widely.

This project is the first of its kind to be conducted in Canada, and one of the first in the world.

Ethical Review

This study has been reviewed and cleared by the McMaster Research Ethics Board.

If you have concerns or questions about privacy, data security or other related aspects of this study, please contact the McMaster Research Ethics Board Secretariat. 

Phone:(905) 525-9140 Ext.23142



c/o Research Office for Administrative Development and Support

McMaster University

1280 Main St West


About the Researcher

Thank you for your interest in our research. It is being conducted by Dr. James Dunn, a Professor in the Department of Health, Aging & Society at McMaster University.

Dr. Dunn has been studying the impacts of housing and neighbourhoods on health and child development for 20 years.

He is closely involved in the evaluation of Hamilton’s Neighbouhood Action Strategy and has a long history of collaborating with governments, not-for-profit organizations and communities.

If you have any questions about this study, please contact:



For More Information

This short video describes the work that we do at CRUNCH and how the video data is collected and analyzed.

For more information about the MUVR and Great Neighbourhoods Visualization Project, download the information package

We welcome your ideas and suggestions about how this information can be used to improve Hamilton neighbourhoods. If you have other questions, you can contact us at 1-8445-CRUNCH.

In the News

Watch an interview with Dr. Dunn on CHCH News: Urban change shown in pictures

Read the Hamilton Spectator's article on the MUVR and the Visualization Project, here: McMaster Zooms in on Hamilton 'hoods.

Read the Globe and Mail's story on the MUVR system and research possibilities: Digitizing Canadian gentrification and urban change in Hamilton

"Hamilton on a Hard Drive" explains the connection between broke windows theory and the video collected by the MUVR system.

Listen to an interview with Dr Dunn on AM 650's show Renovate and Build.