Public Health and Urban Planning have a long history, and we hope to demonstrate the synergies between these two fields through innovative uses of information technology. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides some highlights on this intertwined history (source: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/su5502a12.htm):
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the synergies between urban planning and public health were evident in at least three areas: creation of green space to promote physical activity, social integration, and better mental health; prevention of infectious diseases through community infrastructure, such as drinking water and sewage systems; and protection of persons from hazardous industrial exposures and injury risks through land-use and zoning ordinances. During the middle of the 20th century, the disciplines drifted apart, to a certain extent because of their success in limiting health and safety risks caused by inappropriate mixing of land uses.
The disciplines recently have begun to reintegrate. During the last 20 years, shared concerns have included transportation planning to improve air quality, encourage physical activity, prevent injuries, and promote wellness. In addition, some original crossover ideas, such as the potential for parks and recreational facilities to contribute to physical activity and mental health, have reemerged. Relatively recently, urban planning has focused on the effects of community design on energy use and greenhouse gas emissions to affect the growing public health concern of climate change. Finally, emergency preparedness (e.g., community infrastructure assurance, evacuation planning) and access to health care (e.g., assurance of accessibility and adequacy of facilities) are topics important to both disciplines.
Our project intends to employ spatial statistical techniques to analyze influenza data provided by the CDC. We hope this information will be useful to urban planners, geographers, and public health professionals.
Users will be able to select CDC data (and possibly other data, time permitting), which will be hosted on Google Fusion Tables. After selecting the data, the user will choose one of a number of statistical techniques to be performed on the data. We will first attempt to provide measures of central tendency, and if successful, we will provide more advanced statistics. The statistical operations will be executed in the browser, and will render the resulting images on a map. In addition to the statistics, the CDC features offers several RSS feeds (e.g. podcasts, influenza updates), which will feature on the website and provide real time information.