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International journal of health geographics [journal]
- Using google street view for systematic observation of the built environment: analysis of spatio-temporal instability of imagery dates. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Health Geogr 2013 Dec 3; 12(1):53.
Recently, Google Street View (GSV) has been examined as a tool for remotely conducting systematic observation of the built environment. Studies have found it offers benefits over in-person audits, including efficiency, safety, cost, and the potential to expand built environment research to larger areas and more places globally. However, one limitation has been the lack of documentation on the date of imagery collection. In 2011, Google began placing a date stamp on images which now enables investigation of this concern. This study questions the spatio-temporal stability in the GSV date stamp. Specifically, is the imagery collected contemporaneously? If not, how frequently and where is imagery from different time periods woven together to represent environmental conditions in a particular place. Furthermore, how much continuity exists in imagery for a particular time period? Answering these questions will provide guidance on the use of GSV as a tool for built environment audits.GSV was used to virtually "drive" five sites that are a part of the authors' ongoing studies. Each street in the sites was "driven" one mouse-click at a time while observing the date stamp on each image. Every time the date stamp changed, this "disruption" was marked on the map. Every street segment in the site was coded by the date the imagery for that segment was collected. Spatial query and descriptive statistics were applied to understand the spatio-temporal patterns of imagery dates.Spatio-temporal instability is present in the dates of GSV imagery. Of the 353 disruptions, 82.4% occur close to (<25 m) intersections. The remainder occurs inconsistently in other locations. The extent of continuity for a set of images collected with the same date stamp ranged from 3.13 m to 3373.06 m, though the majority of continuous segments were less than 400 m.GSV offers some benefits over traditional built environment audits. However, this investigation empirically identifies a previously undocumented limitation in its application for research. Imagery dates can change often and without warning. Caution should be used at intersections where these disruptions are most likely to occur, though caution should be used everywhere when using GSV as a data collection tool.
- Neighborhood differences in social capital in Ghent (Belgium): a multilevel approach. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Health Geogr 2013 Nov 13; 12(1):52.
Little research has focused on the spatial distribution of social capital, despite social capital's rising popularity in health research and policy. This study examines the neighborhood differences in social capital and the determinants that explain these differences.Five components of neighborhood social capital are identified by means of factor and reliability analyses using data collected in the cross-sectional SWING study from 762 inhabitants in 42 neighbourhoods in the city of Ghent (Belgium). Neighborhood differences in social capital are explored using hierarchical linear models with cross-level interactions.Significant neighborhood differences are found for social cohesion, informal social control and social support, but not for social leverage and generalized trust. Our findings suggest that neighborhood social capital depends on both characteristics of individuals living in the neighborhood (attachment to neighborhood) and characteristics of the neighborhood itself (deprivation and residential turnover). Our analysis further shows that neighborhood deprivation reinforces the negative effect of declining neighborhood attachment on social cohesion and informal social control.This study foregrounds the importance of contextual effects in encouraging neighborhood social capital. Given the importance of neighborhood-level characteristics, it can be anticipated social capital promoting initiatives are likely to be more effective when tailored to specific areas. Second, our analyses show that not all forms of social capital are influenced by contextual factors to the same extent, implying that changes in neighborhood characteristics are conducive to, say, trust while leaving social support unaffected. Finally, our analysis has demonstrated that complex interrelationships between individual- and neighborhood--level variables exist, which are often overlooked in current work.
- Climate change effects on Chikungunya transmission in europe: geospatial analysis of vector's climatic suitability and virus' temperature requirements. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Health Geogr 2013 Nov 12; 12(1):51.
Chikungunya was, from the European perspective, considered to be a travel-related tropical mosquito-borne disease prior to the first European outbreak in Northern Italy in 2007. This was followed by cases of autochthonous transmission reported in South-eastern France in 2010. Both events occurred after the introduction, establishment and expansion of the Chikungunya-competent and highly invasive disease vector Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquito) in Europe. In order to assess whether these outbreaks are indicative of the beginning of a trend or one-off events, there is a need to further examine the factors driving the potential transmission of Chikungunya in Europe. The climatic suitability, both now and in the future, is an essential starting point for such an analysis.The climatic suitability for Chikungunya outbreaks was determined by using bioclimatic factors that influence both vector and pathogen. Climatic suitability for the European distribution of the vector Aedes albopictus was based upon previous correlative environmental niche models. Climatic risk classes were derived by combining climatic suitability for the vector with known temperature requirements for pathogen transmission, obtained from outbreak regions. In addition, the longest potential intra-annual season for Chikungunya transmission was estimated for regions with expected vector occurrences.In order to analyse spatio-temporal trends for risk exposure and season of transmission in Europe, climate change impacts are projected for three time-frames (2011--2040, 2041--2070 and 2071--2100) and two climate scenarios (A1B and B1) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These climatic projections are based on regional climate model COSMO-CLM which builds on the global model ECHAM5.European areas with current and future climatic suitability of Chikungunya transmission are identified. An increase in risk is projected for Western Europe (e.g. France and Benelux-States) in the first half of the 21st century and from mid-century onwards for central parts of Europe (e.g. Germany). Interestingly, the southernmost parts of Europe do not generally provide suitable conditions in these projections. Nevertheless, many Mediterranean regions will persist to be climatically suitable for transmission. Overall, the highest risk of transmission by the end of the 21st century was projected for France, Northern Italy and the Pannonian Basin (East-Central Europe). This general tendency is depicted in both the A1B and B1 climate change scenarios.In order to guide preparedness for further outbreaks, it is crucial to anticipate risk as to identify areas where specific public health measures, such as surveillance and vector control, can be implemented. However, public health practitioners need to be aware that climate is only one factor driving the transmission of vector-borne disease.
- An evaluation framework for comparing geocoding systems. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Health Geogr 2013 Nov 8; 12(1):50.
Geocoding, the process of converting textual information describing a location into one or more digital geographic representations, is a routine task performed at large organizations and government agencies across the globe. In a health context, this task is often a fundamental first step performed prior to all operations that take place in a spatially-based health study. As such, the quality of the geocoding system used within these agencies is of paramount concern to the agency (the producer) and researchers or policy-makers who wish to use these data (consumers). However, geocoding systems are continually evolving with new products coming on the market continuously. Agencies must develop and use criteria across a number axes when faced with decisions about building, buying, or maintaining any particular geocoding systems. To date, published criteria have focused on one or more aspects of geocode quality without taking a holistic view of a geocoding system's role within a large organization. The primary purpose of this study is to develop and test an evaluation framework to assist a large organization in determining which geocoding systems will meet its operational needs.A geocoding platform evaluation framework is derived through an examination of prior literature on geocoding accuracy. The framework developed extends commonly used geocoding metrics to take into account the specific concerns of large organizations for which geocoding is a fundamental operational capability tightly-knit into its core mission of processing health data records. A case study is performed to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of five geocoding platforms currently available in the Australian geospatial marketplace.The evaluation framework developed in this research is proven successful in differentiating between key capabilities of geocoding systems that are important in the context of a large organization with significant investments in geocoding resources. Results from the proposed methodology highlight important differences across all axes of geocoding system comparisons including spatial data output accuracy, reference data coverage, system flexibility, the potential for tight integration, and the need for specialized staff and/or development time and funding. Such results can empower decisions-makers within large organizations as they make decisions and investments in geocoding systems.
- Potential corridors and barriers for plague spread in central Asia. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Health Geogr 2013 Oct 31; 12(1):49.
Plague (Yersinia pestis infection) is a vector-borne disease which caused millions of human deaths in the Middle Ages. The hosts of plague are mostly rodents, and the disease is spread by the fleas that feed on them. Currently, the disease still circulates amongst sylvatic rodent populations all over the world, including great gerbil (Rhombomys opimus) populations in Central Asia. Great gerbils are social desert rodents that live in family groups in burrows, which are visible on satellite images. In great gerbil populations an abundance threshold exists, above which plague can spread causing epizootics. The spatial distribution of the host species is thought to influence the plague dynamics, such as the direction of plague spread, however no detailed analysis exists on the possible functional or structural corridors and barriers that are present in this population and landscape. This study aims to fill that gap.Three 20 by 20 km areas with known great gerbil burrow distributions were used to analyse the spatial distribution of the burrows. Object-based image analysis was used to map the landscape at several scales, and was linked to the burrow maps. A novel object-based method was developed -- the mean neighbour absolute burrow density difference (MNABDD) -- to identify the optimal scale and evaluate the efficacy of using landscape objects as opposed to square cells. Multiple regression using raster maps was used to identify the landscape-ecological variables that explain burrow density best. Functional corridors and barriers were mapped using burrow density thresholds. Cumulative resistance of the burrow distribution to potential disease spread was evaluated using cost distance analysis. A 46-year plague surveillance dataset was used to evaluate whether plague spread was radially symmetric.The burrow distribution was found to be non-random and negatively correlated with Greenness, especially in the floodplain areas. Corridors and barriers showed a mostly NWSE alignment, suggesting easier spreading along this axis. This was confirmed by the analysis of the plague data.Plague spread had a predominantly NWSE direction, which is likely due to the NWSE alignment of corridors and barriers in the burrow distribution and the landscape. This finding may improve predictions of plague in the future and emphasizes the importance of including landscape analysis in wildlife disease studies.
- A country bug in the city: urban infestation by the Chagas disease vector Triatoma infestans in Arequipa, Peru. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Health Geogr 2013 Oct 30; 12(1):48.
Interruption of vector-borne transmission of Trypanosoma cruzi remains an unrealized objective in many Latin American countries. The task of vector control is complicated by the emergence of vector insects in urban areas.Utilizing data from a large-scale vector control program in Arequipa, Peru, we explored the spatial patterns of infestation by Triatoma infestans in an urban and peri-urban landscape. Multilevel logistic regression was utilized to assess the associations between household infestation and household- and locality-level socio-environmental measures.Of 37,229 households inspected for infestation, 6,982 (18.8%; 95% CI: 18.4 -- 19.2%) were infested by T. infestans. Eighty clusters of infestation were identified, ranging in area from 0.1 to 68.7 hectares and containing as few as one and as many as 1,139 infested households. Spatial dependence between infested households was significant at distances up to 2,000 meters. Household T. infestans infestation was associated with household- and locality-level factors, including housing density, elevation, land surface temperature, and locality type.High levels of T. infestans infestation, characterized by spatial heterogeneity, were found across extensive urban and peri-urban areas prior to vector control. Several environmental and social factors, which may directly or indirectly influence the biology and behavior of T. infestans, were associated with infestation. Spatial clustering of infestation in the urban context may both challenge and inform surveillance and control of vector reemergence after insecticide intervention.
- Performance map of a cluster detection test using extended power. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Health Geogr 2013 Oct 25; 12(1):47.
Conventional power studies possess limited ability to assess the performance of cluster detection tests. In particular, they cannot evaluate the accuracy of the cluster location, which is essential in such assessments. Furthermore, they usually estimate power for one or a few particular alternative hypotheses and thus cannot assess performance over an entire region. Takahashi and Tango developed the concept of extended power that indicates both the rate of null hypothesis rejection and the accuracy of the cluster location. We propose a systematic assessment method, using here extended power, to produce a map showing the performance of cluster detection tests over an entire region.To explore the behavior of a cluster detection test on identical cluster types at any possible location, we successively applied four different spatial and epidemiological parameters. These parameters determined four cluster collections, each covering the entire study region. We simulated 1,000 datasets for each cluster and analyzed them with Kulldorff's spatial scan statistic. From the area under the extended power curve, we constructed a map for each parameter set showing the performance of the test across the entire region.Consistent with previous studies, the performance of the spatial scan statistic increased with the baseline incidence of disease, the size of the at-risk population and the strength of the cluster (i.e., the relative risk). Performance was heterogeneous, however, even for very similar clusters (i.e., similar with respect to the aforementioned factors), suggesting the influence of other factors.The area under the extended power curve is a single measure of performance and, although needing further exploration, it is suitable to conduct a systematic spatial evaluation of performance. The performance map we propose enables epidemiologists to assess cluster detection tests across an entire study region.
- Geospatial analyses to identify clusters of adverse antenatal factors for targeted interventions. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Health Geogr 2013 Oct 24; 12(1):46.
Late antenatal care and smoking during pregnancy are two important factors that are amenable to intervention. Despite the adverse health impacts of smoking during pregnancy and the health benefits of early first antenatal visit on both the mother and the unborn child, substantial proportions of women still smoke during pregnancy or have their first antenatal visit after 10 weeks gestation. This study was undertaken to assess the usefulness of geospatial methods in identifying communities at high risk of smoking during pregnancy and timing of the first antenatal visit, for which targeted interventions may be warranted, and more importantly, feasible.The Perinatal Data Collection, from 1999 to 2008 for south-western Sydney, were obtained from the New South Wales Ministry of Health. Maternal addresses at the time of delivery were georeferenced. A spatial scan statistic implemented in SaTScan was then used to identify statistically significant spatial clusters of women who smoked during pregnancy or women whose first antenatal care visit occurred at or after 10 weeks of pregnancy.Four spatial clusters of maternal smoking during pregnancy and four spatial clusters of first antenatal visit occurring at or after 10 weeks were identified in our analyses. In the maternal smoking during pregnancy clusters, higher proportions of mothers, were aged less than 35 years, had their first antenatal visit at or after 10 weeks and a lower proportion of mothers were primiparous. For the clusters of increased risk of late first antenatal visit at or after 10 weeks of gestation, a higher proportion of mothers lived in the most disadvantaged areas and a lower proportion of mothers were primiparous.The application of spatial analyses provides a means to identify spatial clusters of antenatal risk factors and to investigate the associated socio-demographic characteristics of the clusters.
- Urban slum structure: integrating socioeconomic and land cover data to model slum evolution in Salvador, Brazil. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Health Geogr 2013 Oct 20; 12(1):45.
The expansion of urban slums is a key challenge for public and social policy in the 21st century. The heterogeneous and dynamic nature of slum communities limits the use of rigid slum definitions. A systematic and flexible approach to characterize, delineate and model urban slum structure at an operational resolution is essential to plan, deploy, and monitor interventions at the local and national level.We modeled the multi-dimensional structure of urban slums in the city of Salvador, a city of 3 million inhabitants in Brazil, by integrating census-derived socioeconomic variables and remotely-sensed land cover variables. We assessed the correlation between the two sets of variables using canonical correlation analysis, identified land cover proxies for the socioeconomic variables, and produced an integrated map of deprivation in Salvador at 30 m x 30 m resolution.The canonical analysis identified three significant ordination axes that described the structure of Salvador census tracts according to land cover and socioeconomic features. The first canonical axis captured a gradient from crowded, low-income communities with corrugated roof housing to higher-income communities. The second canonical axis discriminated among socioeconomic variables characterizing the most marginalized census tracts, those without access to sanitation or piped water. The third canonical axis accounted for the least amount of variation, but discriminated between high-income areas with white-painted or tiled roofs from lower-income areas.Our approach captures the socioeconomic and land cover heterogeneity within and between slum settlements and identifies the most marginalized communities in a large, complex urban setting. These findings indicate that changes in the canonical scores for slum areas can be used to track their evolution and to monitor the impact of development programs such as slum upgrading.
- A cross-sectional analysis of light at night, neighborhood sociodemographics and urinary 6-sulfatoxymelatonin concentrations: implications for the conduct of health studies. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Int J Health Geogr 2013 Aug 30; 12(1):39.
There is accumulating evidence that circadian disruption, mediated by alterations in melatonin levels, may play an etiologic role in a wide variety of diseases. The degree to which light-at-night (LAN) and other factors can alter melatonin levels is not well-documented. Our primary objective was to evaluate the degree to which estimates of outdoor environmental LAN predict 6-sulftoxymelatonin (aMT6s), the primary urinary metabolite of melatonin. We also evaluated other potential behavioral, sociodemographic, and anthropomorphic predictors of aMT6s.Study participants consisted of 303 members of the California Teachers Study who provided a 24-hour urine specimen and completed a self-administered questionnaire in 2000. Urinary aMT6s was measured using the Bühlmann ELISA. Outdoor LAN levels were estimated from satellite imagery data obtained from the U.S. Defense Meteorological Satellite Program's (DMSP) Operational Linescan System and assigned to study participants' geocoded residential address. Information on other potential predictors of aMT6s was derived from self-administered surveys. Neighborhood socioeconomic status (SES) was based on U.S. Census block group data.Lower aMT6s levels were significantly associated with older age, shorter nights, and residential locations in lower SES neighborhoods. Outdoor sources of LAN estimated using low-dynamic range DMSP data had insufficient variability across urban neighborhoods to evaluate. While high-dynamic range DMSP offered much better variability, it was not significantly associated with urinary aMT6s.Future health studies should utilize the high-dynamic range DMSP data and should consider other potential sources of circadian disruption associated with living in lower SES neighborhoods.