Knowlton's Drones: Leveraging High-Resolution Aerial Imagery for "Complete Street" Service Learning

Undergraduate students in the lecture-based course, CRPLAN4110: Transportation and Land Use Planning, completed a service learning project for the Complete Streets committee, a volunteer group of residents in Italian Village and adjacent neighborhoods. The instructor developed a series of field surveys for the students to complete and worked with a Knowlton School staff member to complete an aerial survey of the 5th Avenue corridor. The service goal was for the students to develop recommendations and information that the Complete Streets Committee can use to advocate for complete streets in their neighborhood. The learning objective was for the students to understand what is lost and what is gained when we rely on different strategies (both high-tech and low-tech) to map and understand spaces where we do not live, but must professionally observe and plan. With the innovative approach to data collection, we provided important information to community members and offered a unique learning opportunity for city and regional planning students. 

The service learning project included an interactive event titled “iplanfor Complete Streets @KnowltonOSU” with seven community member attendees. To facilitate dialogue and learning between students and community members, the assessment included large visuals and data summaries prepared by Knowlton students, staff, and faculty. The visual information included a 90‐ft‐wide, high-resolution print of the 5th Ave corridor (from 315 to just past I‐71). Additionally, we had an interactive, digital 3‐D model of the corridor generated from drone/UAV aerial imaging. Finally, students shared summaries of their field work in Weinland Park, Italian Village, Milo‐Grogen, Harrison West, and the Short North. The project garnered media coverage from 10TV news (‐students‐use‐drone‐improve‐livability‐columbusneighborhoods), a short video from the Knowlton school (, and there is a pending OSU COE news article.