Online Program

Seeing is believing? Geospatial approaches for data collection and analysis of observable behavior in environmental audits

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 8:30 a.m. - 8:45 a.m.

Jacqueline Curtis, Assistant Professor, Associate Director of the GIS, Health & Hazards Lab, Department of Geography, Kent State University, Kent, OH
Laura Schuch, MPH, Department of Geography, Kent State University, Kent, OH
Andrew Curtis, Ph.D., Co-Director of the GIS, Health & Hazards Lab, Department of Geography, Kent State University, Kent, OH
Heather Wuensch, Children's Hospital Medical Center of Akron, Akron, OH
Courtney Hudson, MPH, Children's Hospital Medical Center of Akron, Akron, OH
Background / Purpose

Environmental audit tools have predominantly focused on assessing the physical environment (e.g. presence or quality of infrastructural items). In comparison, a dearth of attention has been paid to the systematic documentation of the social environment. Emergent geospatial technology can be used to systematically collect both observable features of the environment and the behaviors occurring in these places. To fully develop causal pathways linking environment and behavior, we need more than an inventory of what is in a particular area, but also who uses these resources and how.


This presentation demonstrates integration of spatial video with a Geographic Information System (GIS) to survey child injury risks in outdoor physical activity (PA), active transport to school (ATS), and bicycle helmet use in both endeavors. Spatial video is high definition, Global Positioning System (GPS)-enabled video; each second of video can be placed in its real-world location. Observed environmental features and behaviors can then be coded to their geographic location.

Results / Outcomes

Results reveal that a number of demographic and behavioral variables can be coded and mapped, such as age, sex, adult supervision, type of activity, helmet use, as well as other injury risks. Repeating spatial video data collection and mapping enables studies on behavioral and environmental correlates of child injury to move beyond cross-sectional designs to analyze observations and outcomes longitudinally.


Observing children’s activities in public open spaces provides empirical evidence of how they use these places and the injury risks posed by both environment and behavior.

Learning Areas:

Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify gaps in existing research on environmental audits, specifically the over-representation on environmental correlates of behaviors without directly studying the behaviors themselves Describe the use of spatial video for cross-sectional and longitudinal data collection and coding as a necessary component of environmental audits Formulate ideas for replicating this approach in their own studies to expand the evidence base on childrens’ use of public space, outdoor physical activity, and injury prevention

Keyword(s): Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Behavioral Research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am Associate Director of the GIS Health & Hazards Lab at Kent State University. I hold a doctorate in geography with a minor concentration in anthropology. My research is focused on using geospatial techniques with mixed methods to understand the health-place nexus. In addition to numerous publications on this subject, I have recently served as Principal Investigator on research with Children’s Hospital Medical Center of Akron (CHMCA) on child injury prevention.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.