Saturday, February 4, 2017

GIS and Neighborhood Health

Geographical and social variations in health have been the focus of recent studies.  In addition, the geographic location of neighborhoods and what is around them have been shown to affect health and general well-being as person’s access to food, health resources, transportation, education, and recreational areas are known to affect their overall health.  Researchers in New Zealand are now using GIS technology to help determine the health of entire neighborhoods. 
During the scope of their study, researchers calculated indexes for one or more health issues such as mortality, heart disease and diabetes, and indexed domains such as recreational amenities, shopping centers, educational and health facilities, and social areas.  The precise location was obtained for each location and imported into the GIS software.

GIS based methodology enabled researchers to map travel times to nearest resources allowing them to ascertain which neighborhood has access to the most community resources both in urban and rural areas and directly tie that in with the indexed health domains.  The researchers anticipate that this index will all be valuable in other aspects such as city planning, social and health related community resources and public health initiatives. 

Link to article: Neighbourhoods and health: a GIS approach to measuring community resource accessibility

Pearce, Jamie, Karen Witten, and Phil Bartie. "Neighbourhoods and health: a GIS approach to measuring community resource accessibility." Journal of epidemiology and community health 60.5 (2006): 389-395.


  1. This is super interesting. This would allow city planners to eliminate food deserts and to make sure each neighborhood is able to access facilities that lead to a healthy life. The thing I was curious about was the talk of public transportation, while it is beneficial to those without a car it also creates more division between race and class, as mentioned in class this past week. Therefore, maybe the fix is not public transportation, but better planning in the beginning.

  2. I'm quite intrigued by this article and its concepts. After thinking about my neighborhood, and the ones nearby, having close proximity to certain aspects of life can definitely have an affect on your health and a healthy lifestyle. I wonder if this could be used by certain neighborhoods in a city to show that they need more transportation options, recreational areas, etc. close by.

  3. I think it is cool that they can use GIS to see social concepts such as health. This can be used to explain why everyone in Egypt settled around the Nile River. It is the only river in Egypt and without its resources and transportation abilities it would be hard to thrive.

  4. This is so so fascinating, to see social justice issues which are often spoke about actually mapped out has the potential to make so much difference in the realm of policy and maintenance.