The National Academies

ACRP 02-83 [Active]

Measuring Quality of Life in Communities Surrounding Airports

  Project Data
Funds: $399,840
Staff Responsibility: Joseph D. Navarrete
Research Agency: HMMH
Principal Investigator: Katherine Preston
Effective Date: 4/30/2018
Completion Date: 10/30/2018


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. 
The ACRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective. The work proposed must be divided into tasks, and proposers must describe the work proposed in each task in detail.
The research plan should include, at a minimum: (1) literature review including a list of current methods and indicators and (2) an interim report that describes work done in early tasks, including initial recommendations for preferred methods and indicators to measure quality of life and a rationale, and a plan to “road test” the methods and guidance by partnering with a representative sample of airports and communities.
The research plan should also include, at a minimum, the following checkpoints with the ACRP project panel: (1) kick-off conference call to be held within 1 month of contract execution and (2) interim meeting to review the results of the interim report.
The final deliverables will include: (1) the methods and guidance to measure the effect of an airport on the quality of life on its surrounding communities; (2) guidebook; (3) technical report documenting all aspects of the research, including a dissemination plan and future research needs; and (4) a stand-alone technical memorandum titled, “Implementation of Research Findings and Products".


Research is underway.  The panel and contractor held a kickoff web meeting on June 28, 2018.  The interim report is scheduled to be provided in November 2018.

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