An Interactive Mapping Tool to Assess Individual Mobility Patterns in Neighborhood Studies

Am J Prev Med. 2012 Oct;43(4):440-50. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2012.06.026.

Abstract

As their most critical limitation, neighborhood and health studies published to date have not taken into account nonresidential activity places where individuals travel in their daily lives. However, identifying low-mobility populations residing in low-resource environments, assessing cumulative environmental exposures over multiple activity places, and identifying specific activity locations for targeting interventions are important for health promotion. Daily mobility has not been given due consideration in part because of a lack of tools to collect locational information on activity spaces. Thus, the first aim of the current article is to describe VERITAS (Visualization and Evaluation of Route Itineraries, Travel Destinations, and Activity Spaces), an interactive web mapping application that can geolocate individuals' activity places, routes between locations, and relevant areas such as experienced or perceived neighborhoods. The second aim is to formalize the theoretic grounds of a contextual expology as a subdiscipline to better assess the spatiotemporal configuration of environmental exposures. Based on activity place data, various indicators of individual patterns of movement in space (spatial behavior) are described. Successive steps are outlined for elaborating variables of multiplace environmental exposure (collection of raw locational information, selection/exclusion of locational data, defining an exposure area for measurement, and calculation). Travel and activity place network areas are discussed as a relevant construct for environmental exposure assessment. Finally, a note of caution is provided that these measures require careful handling to avoid increasing the magnitude of confounding (selective daily mobility bias).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Exposure
  • Geographic Information Systems*
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Travel