Skip to content

Smartphone-based light detection and ranging: a case study of measuring homeless encampments in downtown San Diego

The United Nations “Leave No One Behind” motto is a commitment to assure the 2030 Global Agenda benefit all people, in particular marginalized groups. However, disadvantaged populations, such as homeless groups, are still getting left behind and not advocated for globally.

Global advocates such as the UN General Assembly did not pass a resolution for homelessness until late December 2021. By this time, homelessness in America remains a consistent problem with no visible solutions. California averaged 1 homeless person per square mile. Researchers at the Metabolism of Cities Living Lab are tracking and visualizing homelessness using monitoring technologies at a local level to address the lack of attention to this issue in San Diego County, California. In this project we use LiDAR, a surveying technique that utilizes laser light pulses to collect 3-D point clouds, as an alternative and open-source way to measure and visualize homelessness. Homelessness tends to be concentrated in urban neighborhoods near economically disadvantaged communities with limited resources, making them more prone to health disparities and further leaving them behind. The current study suggests that the densest homeless populations in San Diego County are three times more than the state average.


Dustin Harrison (Metabolism of Cities Living Lab, USA), Harmit Chima (MS Big Data Analytics and Metabolism of Cities Living Lab, USA), Nasser Mohieddin (MS Big Data Analytics and Metabolism of Cities Living Lab, USA), Dr. Gabriela Fernandez (Metabolism of Cities Living Lab, USA)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *