Comparing the Use of Spatially Explicit Indicators and Conventional Indicators in the Evaluation of Healthy Cities: A Case Study in Shenzhen, China

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Oct 12;17(20):7409. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17207409.


Various indicator systems have been developed to monitor and assess healthy cities. However, few of them contain spatially explicit indicators. In this study, we assessed four health determinants in Shenzhen, China, using both indicators commonly included in healthy city indicator systems and spatially explicit indicators. The spatially explicit indicators were developed using detailed building information or social media data. Our results showed that the evaluation results of districts and sub-districts in Shenzhen based on spatially explicit indicators could be positively, negatively, or not associated with the evaluation results based on conventional indicators. The discrepancy may be caused by the different information contained in the two types of indicators. The spatially explicit indicators measure the quantity of the determinants and the spatial accessibility of these determinants, while the conventional indicators only measure the quantity. Our results also showed that social media data have great potential to represent the high-resolution population distribution required to estimate spatially explicit indicators. Based on our findings, we recommend that spatially explicit indicators should be included in healthy city indicator systems to allow for a more comprehensive assessment of healthy cities.

Keywords: evaluation; health cities; indicator system; social media data; spatial distance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Cities
  • Environment Design
  • Environmental Health*
  • Humans