Syracuse Alcohol Environment Project

In 2009, Robert Pezzolesi (of Walden University), working in collaboration with the Onondaga County Health Department and the Syracuse/Onondaga Drug & Alcohol Abuse Commission, developed the Syracuse Alcohol Environment Project (SAEP) Report analyzing and drawing connections between alcohol outlet density in Syracuse (and, by extension, alcohol availability in Syracuse), and various other patterns (DWI arrests, aggravated assault arrests, school locations, etc.). Using GIS technology, and with access to a wealth of data (from the Census, local police, and the New York State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, among others), they were able to present a report that drew several connections between the physical locations of alcohol vendors and many of the variables that both influence, and are influenced by, the positions of these outlets. Pezzolesi also wrote a white paper summarizing his results, and, coupled with the numerous maps he created, was able to put forward a complete project, as a way to advocate for changes in legislation passed by the New York State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which would allow local governments more control over the regulation of alcohol outlet density.

Pezzolesi’s project speaks directly to the level of spatial thinking that we promote here at RJI. It is a primary example of the connections we can make, and the changes we can influence with simple maps and forward thinking. His project would not have been the same without these maps, and we want to promote the fact that spatial thinking and map making is not hard or complex, and the most seemingly unrelated of phenomena can be explained with simple spatial analysis. The SAEP is a great example of the type of precedent we want to guide everyone towards.

Inspired by Mr. Pezzolesi’s work, the RJI GIS team collaborated with Shawnee Bigelow, PPAC Coalition Coordinator, to create a similar report for Allegany County which you can read here.


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