The impact of the built environment on health and chronic disease outcomes is increasingly being recognized. As Public Health develops interventions to transform the health-promoting potential of built environments, effective monitoring and evaluation will require the creation and baseline measurement of key health-promoting urban elements.
Objectives and Approach
The Healthy Development Monitoring Project aims to assess health-promoting aspects of the existing built environment across the Region of Peel, a large region of 1.382 million people in Southern Ontario comprised of three local municipalities (the Cities of Mississauga, Brampton and Town of Caledon).
Project objectives include:
The resulting Healthy Development Monitoring Map (HDMM) is an interactive online mapping tool that includes twenty built form indicators characterizing the region’s built environment, including: density, service proximity, land use mix, street connectivity, streetscape characteristics and efficient parking. These indicators were created through extensive cross-sectoral collaboration with regional and municipal staff in land-use and policy planning, transportation, internal data centers and academic institutions. This collaborative approach enabled the linking of data sets from land-use planning, urban design and transportation to allow the health-promoting potential of existing built environment conditions to be objectively described. The HDMM demonstrates considerable progress in producing precise, neighbourhood-level built environment indicators at a regional scale by integrating census and local data into a comprehensive set of empirically-derived measures.
The HDMM is a novel approach to quantifying a social determinant of health through collaborative data acquisition and analysis. The HDMM benefits public health, planning and non-governmental decision-makers by creating a holistic presentation of key infrastructure and design elements that contribute to healthier urban environments.