High noise levels are an irritation and, at very high levels, a health hazard. Several new applications allow smart phone owners to turn their phone into a sound meter. A number are reviewed at healthyhearing.com.
For more about the connections between noise and health see the noise section of the Design for Health web site.
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.
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.
The 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.
For those interested in how to connect health and urban planning, the APAs Planning and Community Health Research Center is a good place to start. Resources include links to a number of health-related interest groups, links to educational programs, and a useful listing of APA’s health-related publications. A companion resource is the Planning and University Research Registry (PURR) where researchers can list projects both in progress and completed. A number are related to health and planning.
|Urban Agriculture in Beihai, China. Photo by Ann Forsyth.|
For practitioners interested in integrating health research into planning and design, the task can be daunting. There are many articles that touch on the topic of the connection between people, health, and place but with varying levels of relevance, research quality, and cost (and many can be quite expensive to those who don’t have university library subscriptions). Into the gap have come a number of organizations creating practice-oriented research summaries.
- InformeDesign summarizes many articles, and has an easy search interface, which is very helpful: http://www.informedesign.org/Default.aspx. To find syntheses that evaluate the balance of evidence one needs to go to other sources.
- UCLA HIA-CLIC has some helpful summaries of research organized by sector (e.g transportation) and pathway (e.g air quality) http://www.hiaguide.org/sectors-and-causal-pathways. Not every issues has information—a number are forthcoming—but it’s generally a helpful site.
- Design for Health’s research summaries are now 3 or 4 years old: http://designforhealth.net/resources/researchsummaries.html. This is more of a problem in the area of physical activity and food—where there has been a lot of recent research—than in the other topics where there are fewer new studies. For those wanting to get updated research there are larger topical pages listing other resources: http://designforhealth.net/resources/generalhealthissues.html and a list of web sites by topic is available at .
UN Habitat produces and distributes a large number of reports, many related to health with numerous publications on water infrastructure, social inclusion, disaster management, housing issues, and climate change. Although you can buy printed reports that isn’t always necessary as many can be found for free.
|Diagram from Hidden Cities|
|A screenshot of the online slide show|
With Christine Green from APA and Nisha Bochwey from the University of Virginia I’ve worked to update the program (without changing the voiceover except for one short additional module!)—Christine is the maven of resources and Nisha did a stellar job on quizzes. There are a lot of new examples. The computer generated voice is a bit weird but the content is a good introduction to HIA—and thanks to the CDC it’s free.
|Food stall in Stockholm. Photo: Ann Forsyth|
How people get access to healthy food is a concern to many. I’ve recently had some requests for information. Design for Health resources include an “issues sheet” with ideas for incorporating food into planning and a research summary. Links include a food security assessment, also featured on an earlier blog http://healthymetropolis.blogspot.com/2010/11/tools-food-security-assessments.html
The APA’s national healthy communities center has a food interest group is also a terrific resource as are its numerous publications on this issue: http://www.planning.org/nationalcenters/health/food.htm