The National Academies

ACRP 02-83 [Final]

Measuring Quality of Life in Communities Surrounding Airports

  Project Data
Funds: $399,840
Research Agency: HMMH
Principal Investigator: Katherine Preston
Effective Date: 4/30/2018
Completion Date: 10/30/2019


Airports make investments that influence quality of life for their communities (e.g., creating jobs, attracting and supporting businesses, serving as hubs for transportation networks, generating noise, and affecting air quality).  Quality of life can be defined as a broad and multidimensional concept that usually includes an individual’s perception of his or her position in life, and encompasses both positive and negative aspects.  It includes objective factors (e.g., health, work status, command of material resources, living conditions) and the subjective perception one has of those factors within the context of aspects like culture, values, and spirituality.  These factors make measuring the quality of life for different populations in a comparable manner a complex task.  While airports undertake economic and environmental impact studies, to date, there is no guidance that airports, communities, and other stakeholders can use to comprehensively measure the impact of airport-related activity on quality of life.
The objective of this research is to develop methods and guidance to measure the effect of an airport on the quality of life on its surrounding communities.
The methods should, at a minimum:
  • Be built, to the greatest extent practical, on existing, industry-accepted, standardized tools and practices;
  • Be adaptable to various sizes and types of airports, and communities;
  • Be scalable to levels of resource availability (e.g., data, time, money, personnel, expertise);
  • Be capable of evaluating the effect of proposed projects, policies, and activities;
  • Consider multiple indicators of quality of life;
  • Incorporate both quantitative and qualitative metrics;
  • Allow indicators to be normalized, weighted, and prioritized; and
  • Produce results in various formats for multiple audiences (e.g., summaries, scorecards, charts, spreadsheets, matrices). 
The guidance should, at a minimum:
  • Include a primer on quality of life issues for communities around airports that provides:
    • Definitions,
    • A description of quality of life indicators,
    • A discussion of how airports and stakeholders (e.g., governing entities, airlines, tenants, regional planning organizations, community groups) influence quality of life indicators, and
    • An overview of current quality of life measurement practices;
  • Provide a process (e.g., matrix, decision tree, flow chart) to help practitioners select the most appropriate methods for their situation;
  • Help practitioners define study limits (e.g., subject airport(s); projects, policies, and activities; geography; populations of interest);
  • Demonstrate approaches to meet the needs and priorities of various stakeholders;
  • Help practitioners determine appropriate weights and prioritize criteria for their unique situation;
  • List resources for more information and guidance on (at a minimum):
    • Data sources,
    • Addressing identified opportunities for improvement based on findings, and
    • Stakeholder engagement; and
  • Illustrative examples. 

Research is complete.  Results are available in ACRP Research Report 221, a Survey Tool, Dataset, and an Introduction PowerPoint.

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