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Monitoring The Impact of Urban Form Changes on Health and Inequality: The INTERACT Methodology

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Presented by Meridith Sones
Simon Fraser University

Using cutting-edge technology and tools, INTERACT is conducting natural experiment studies on major changes in urban form in four Canadian cities (a multiuse greenway in Vancouver, a sustainable development plan in Montreal, a bicycle network in Victoria, and Bus Rapid Transit in Saskatoon). Applying an integrated knowledge translation approach in each city, INTERACT aims to: (1) understand context of urban interventions; (2) measure change in urban form; (3) analyze impact of interventions on health, wellbeing, and social inequalities; (4) mobilize knowledge to guide future decision making on urban change.


Kestens Y, Fuller D, Winters M, Bell S, Cantinotti M, Datta G, Lewis P, Lord S, McKay H, Morency C, Muhajarine N, Nelson T, Sims-Gould J, Stanley K, Wasfi R, Shareck M, Berscheid J, Gough M, Laberee K, Ottoni C, Poirier Stephens Z, Pugh C, Sones M, Brondeel R, Thigpen C, Luan H. Monitoring The Impact of Urban Form Changes on Health and Inequality: The INTERACT Methodology. Poster presentation at: Active Living Research Conference; February 2018; Banff, AB. (First prize for poster presentation)

Published in: Data & Analytics
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Monitoring The Impact of Urban Form Changes on Health and Inequality: The INTERACT Methodology

  1. 1. Let’s INTERACT: Mobilizing data, cities, and citizens for healthy and equitable cities. Interventions, Research, and Action in Cities Team 4TH INTERNATIONAL FUSE CONFERENCE
  2. 2. Healthy, equitable, and sustainable cities by design.
  3. 3. Using INTERACT’s scalable toolkit and integrated approach to knowledge mobilization, scientists and society are joining forces to co-produce a research agenda and contextual evidence on the effectiveness of urban form interventions implemented across geographic settings and populations.
  4. 4. 81% of Canadians live in cities. Source: Maclean’s, 2017
  5. 5. Our postal code is a powerful predictor of our health. Photograph: Jean-Pierre Lescourret/Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images. Source: The Guardian, 2017
  6. 6. The Canadian government is promising to spend over $180 billion on infrastructure over 12 years. What impact will these investments have on population health and health equity?
  7. 7. “The shift to a focus on the impact of the built environment on healthy living has taken time. Making widespread changes is difficult and often starts as smaller changes at the community level. Evidence is important, but so is context. Evidence needs to match a community’s needs, situation and characteristics to be considered relevant.” Dr. Theresa Tam, CPHO Designing Healthy Living: Report on the State of Public Health in Canada 2017
  8. 8. In partnership with cities and citizens, we harness big data to deliver timely public health intelligence on the influence of real world urban form interventions on health, wellbeing, and social inequalities— generating local evidence and action to advance the design of smart, sustainable, and healthier cities for all.
  9. 9. FOUR CITIES. FOUR NATURAL EXPERIMENT STUDIES. 1 3 4 2 Arbutus Greenway Vancouver, BC All ages and abilities (AAA) Cycling Network Victoria, BC Bus Rapid Transit Saskatoon, SK Community Sustainability Plan Montreal, QC
  10. 10. AIMS 1. Understand context of urban interventions. 2. Measure change in urban form, activity, mobility, social interactions. 3. Analyze impact of interventions on health, wellbeing, and related inequities. 4. Mobilize knowledge to guide future decision- making.
  11. 11. Lebel et al. (2011) Whether an urban form intervention is perceived as a success or failure depends on context. Concept mapping can help to uncover context, highlighting the diverse perspectives of stakeholders, and refining implementation and research design.
  12. 12. Prompting question (E.g. “From your perspective, factors that impact the success or failure of [name intervention] are…..“) 14 Statement Generation Research Question Ideas Statement sorting and rating Sorting in groups Ranking items by importance, feasibility. Data analysis Multidimensional scaling Cluster analysis Visualization Focus groups Interpreting the map Participants INTERACT CONCEPT MAPPING PROCESS Researchers In partnership Participants
  13. 13. Participants: 22 researchers, 10 knowledge users Prompt: “Identify major real- world issues or research questions that you would like to see addressed, as well as relevant methods you think could/should be used in order to generate strong evidence and guide future interventions changing environments…” RESULTS: CONCEPT MAPPING DURING GRANT DEVELOPMENT
  14. 14. 16Monitoring and evaluation Network characteristics and design RESULTS: CONCEPT MAPPING - BIKE NETWORK IN VICTORIA, BC Communications, promotions, public engagement Political leadership and support Stakeholder engagement and support Participants: 8 community organizations 8 policy makers/government 10 private sector 3 citizen representatives Prompt: “From your perspective, factors that impact the success or failure of the bike network are…. ”
  15. 15. During concept mapping, individual items are rated by importance and feasibility to identify those in the “Go Zone”…
  16. 16. “Go-zone” items - both important and feasible Continued commitment of leaders to the vision Careful planning at intersections Completeness/ connectivity of the network Sufficient funding for the network Invest in bike racks, particularly at destinations Political Leadership Network Characteristics and Design Evaluate ridership pre/post installation (counts and perceptions) Monitoring and Evaluation
  17. 17. Concept mapping clusters, ranked by importance. Saskatoon Victoria 1. Reliability and Ease of Use 2. Funding 3. Overall Urban Design Friendliness 4. Stakeholder Engagement 5. Costs 1. Political leadership and support 2. Network characteristics 3. Monitoring and evaluation 4. Communication, promotions and public engagement 5. Stakeholder engagement 19 DIFFERENT CITY, DIFFERENT CONTEXT
  18. 18. BENEFITS OF CONCEPT MAPPING WITH PARTNERS • Helps to inform research agendas with ‘real world’ needs • Reaches a large spectrum of stakeholders and perspectives. • Identifies convergent and divergent perspectives. • Synthesizes local, contextual knowledge that is mutually beneficial. • More systematic than a coffee date!
  19. 19. Concept mapping isn’t always technical or quantitative. E.g. Arts-based concept mapping in Bahia, Brazil
  20. 20. Using INTERACT’s scalable toolkit and integrated approach to knowledge mobilization, scientists and society are joining forces to co-produce a research agenda and contextual evidence on the effectiveness of urban form interventions implemented across geographic settings and populations.
  21. 21. Thanks!
  22. 22. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.” - Miles Kington
  23. 23. LET’S REIMAGINE OUR CITIES TO BE HEALTHIER PLACES FOR EVERYONE. #LETSINTERACT WWW.TEAMINTERACT.CA @TEAMINTERACT.CA @TEAMINTERACTCA

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