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Design For Health

Noise Mapping England

Noise Mapping England is a terrific online resource providing highly localized noise mapping for a number of English cities. Noise sources include raid, rail, industry, and air and users can create separate maps for day and night.

For more information about health and noise see the noise section of the Design for Health web site.

Noise map of part of Manchester. For the legend navigate to the site.

Global Health Data from the WHO

For those interested in the broad situation of health and place globally, the World Health Organization’s Global Health Observatory is a useful resource. The observatory includes data repository, reports, and a useful map gallery. Maps, using data at the country scale, cover a wide range of topics from average cholesterol and avian influenza to health expenditure. These are clear maps at a similar scale and a terrific resource.

WHO Maps

Mapping Rural Health: The USDA Economic Research Service’s Online Maps

Food AtlasThe USDA Economic Research Service’s Food Environment Atlas and Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America provide a wealth of data on health issues and determinants (causes). Boasting an easy-to use interface the Food Environment Atlas deals with a very wide range of issues including grocery store access, restaurant expenditures, food assistance, food insecurity, food prices, local foods, health and physical activity information (e.g. obesity, fitness facilities), and socioeconomic characteristics. There is online documentation and data can be downloaded in Excel format.

The Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America adds even more information about people, jobs, the character of agricultural production, and levels of urbanization. Again documentation is available and data can be downloaded.

Mapping Health Issues with GIS: Participatory Approaches

Participatory GIS is a growing field. For those interested in integrating participatory GIS into healthy planning, several web sites provide helpful illustrations of the potential.

Public Participatory GIS based in a company called Vertices in New Brunswick, New Jersey, (http://www.ppgis.info/) provides illustrative maps on topics from bike crashes to a calculator for calories burned walking different routes. Not all maps are local, for example the public health maps rangr from alcohol sales places in New Orleans to food sales in Philadelphia.

Transparent Chennai (http://www.transparentchennai.com/), at the Institute for Financial Management and Research, uses GIS but with a focus on topics such as squatter settlements, environmental hazards, and other aspects of quality of life. What is particularly handy about this site is one can build a map from different kinds of information including environmental, political, infrastructural, and social issues: http://www.transparentchennai.com/buildamap/. This site really shows the potential for a fairly integrated yet still user driven experience that could be particularly helpful for those interested in working with communities on issues of health and place.

Part of a map from Transparent Chennai

Map Kibera (http://mapkibera.org/) started in 2009 by several NGOs in a large squatter settlement in Nairobi Kenya, reportedly was an inspiration for Transparent Chennai. The site has a lot of information apart from maps, showing how different kinds of information—spreadsheets, a blog, twitter, a wiki, and so on—can be linked.

For a more technical, expert-led approach to using GIS see the DFH Threhold Analysis HIA  and research oriented NEAT-GIS and LEAN-GIS protocols. These can however be used in a participatory setting. The Arden Hills Rapid HIA used similar maps as background information, for example (see report appendices).

My thanks to Azhar Tyabji, at the Institute for Financial Management and Research, for leading me to his colleague Nithya V. Raman (and her team’s) work on Transparent Chennai.

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