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Spatial modeling and social aspects of a healthy living environment in an urban setting

Thomas Verbeek (UGent)
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Abstract
The interconnection between the environment and health and/or well-being gains increasing attention from researchers, spatial planners and politicians. In the light of sustainable development the realization of healthy cities is an important objective. The proposed research wants to contribute to this emerging research field. One of the main lacunas in the existing knowledge is the construction of an integrated framework to evaluate the combined impact of environmental aspects on health. Most existing research operates within one discipline and investigates just one aspect, for example the impact of air pollution by highways on surrounding residents’ health. The integration of these different research outcomes and an application to an urban area remains a nearly uncultivated research field. The proposed research aims to analyze and integrate the different environmental impacts on health (1), to make up a tool which can be used by spatial planners to evaluate the combined environmental quality of a spatial location (2) and to study the social background and perception of residents living in ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’ neighborhoods (3). To guide this research, two important choices are made. First, the proposed research will focus on impacts caused by the physical environment – and not the social environment – because these are the most relevant for spatial planners. Second, the research will analyze differences in environmental characteristics at the neighborhood scale. Impacts at this level are supposed to be spatially the most relevant and can be acted on by spatial planners. Furthermore, the choice for the local, neighborhood level makes it possible (and relevant) to include social aspects of the residents in the research. The first research part consists of an extensive literature study to generate an overview of all spatial aspects that have an effect on people’s health and well-being, at a local scale. The aim is to set up an integrated framework where the evidence of the existing research output can be compared and evaluated. Out of this analysis the environmental characteristics relevant for spatial planning are discerned. Finally recommendations for urban planning policy are formulated, aimed at initiating new generic rules. Here the aspect of environmental justice comes into view, the right on a healthy living environment for every citizen regardless of social and economic status. In the second research part a spatial geographical model will be created (with GIS software) in which the different spatial aspects with an effect on health and well-being can be presented layer by layer, and combined in a final integrated ‘health impact map’ of an urban region. This map will give insight into ‘healthy’ neighborhoods and ‘less healthy’ neighborhoods. Challenges are to choose the ‘best’ available quantification method and to find a good combination method to add up all the impacts. The final research part wants to gain insight into the social background and perception on environmental quality of people living in healthy or less healthy neighborhoods, by carrying out a survey of residents. Thus, the hypothesis of the socially less advantaged people living in the most harmful neighborhoods can be verified.
Keywords
well-being, research design, health, quality of life, spatial planning, urban planning

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Citation

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Chicago
Verbeek, Thomas. 2012. “Spatial Modeling and Social Aspects of a Healthy Living Environment in an Urban Setting.” In PhD Workshop, Proceedings. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University, Department of Civil engineering.
APA
Verbeek, Thomas. (2012). Spatial modeling and social aspects of a healthy living environment in an urban setting. PhD Workshop, Proceedings. Presented at the PhD Workshop (AESOP - 2012), Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University, Department of Civil engineering.
Vancouver
1.
Verbeek T. Spatial modeling and social aspects of a healthy living environment in an urban setting. PhD Workshop, Proceedings. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University, Department of Civil engineering; 2012.
MLA
Verbeek, Thomas. “Spatial Modeling and Social Aspects of a Healthy Living Environment in an Urban Setting.” PhD Workshop, Proceedings. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University, Department of Civil engineering, 2012. Print.
@inproceedings{2966146,
  abstract     = {The interconnection between the environment and health and/or well-being gains increasing attention from researchers, spatial planners and politicians. In the light of sustainable development the realization of healthy cities is an important objective. The proposed research wants to contribute to this emerging research field.
One of the main lacunas in the existing knowledge is the construction of an integrated framework to evaluate the combined impact of environmental aspects on health. Most existing research operates within one discipline and investigates just one aspect, for example the impact of air pollution by highways on surrounding residents{\textquoteright} health. The integration of these different research outcomes and an application to an urban area remains a nearly uncultivated research field. The proposed research aims to analyze and integrate the different environmental impacts on health (1), to make up a tool which can be used by spatial planners to evaluate the combined environmental quality of a spatial location (2) and to study the social background and perception of residents living in {\textquoteleft}healthy{\textquoteright} or {\textquoteleft}unhealthy{\textquoteright} neighborhoods (3). To guide this research, two important choices are made. First, the proposed research will focus on impacts caused by the physical environment -- and not the social environment -- because these are the most relevant for spatial planners. Second, the research will analyze differences in environmental characteristics at the neighborhood scale. Impacts at this level are supposed to be spatially the most relevant and can be acted on by spatial planners. Furthermore, the choice for the local, neighborhood level makes it possible (and relevant) to include social aspects of the residents in the research. The first research part consists of an extensive literature study to generate an overview of all spatial aspects that have an effect on people{\textquoteright}s health and well-being, at a local scale. The aim is to set up an integrated framework where the evidence of the existing research output can be compared and evaluated. Out of this analysis the environmental characteristics relevant for spatial planning are discerned. Finally recommendations for urban planning policy are formulated, aimed at initiating new generic rules. Here the aspect of environmental justice comes into view, the right on a healthy living environment for every citizen regardless of social and economic status. In the second research part a spatial geographical model will be created (with GIS software) in which the different spatial aspects with an effect on health and well-being can be presented layer by layer, and combined in a final integrated {\textquoteleft}health impact map{\textquoteright} of an urban region. This map will give insight into {\textquoteleft}healthy{\textquoteright} neighborhoods and {\textquoteleft}less healthy{\textquoteright} neighborhoods. Challenges are to choose the {\textquoteleft}best{\textquoteright} available quantification method and to find a good combination method to add up all the impacts. The final research part wants to gain insight into the social background and perception on environmental quality of people living in healthy or less healthy neighborhoods, by carrying out a survey of residents. Thus, the hypothesis of the socially less advantaged people living in the most harmful neighborhoods can be verified.},
  author       = {Verbeek, Thomas},
  booktitle    = {PhD Workshop, Proceedings},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Izmir, Turkey},
  pages        = {20},
  publisher    = {Ghent University, Department of Civil engineering},
  title        = {Spatial modeling and social aspects of a healthy living environment in an urban setting},
  url          = {http://www.aesop-planning.eu/en\_GB/aesop-phd-workshop},
  year         = {2012},
}