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Participatory Urban Living for Sustainable Environments

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PULSE (Participatory Urban Living for Sustainable Environments)

Reporting period: 2016-11-01 to 2018-04-30

Air quality is a major issue for European public health, the economy and the environment. Air pollution is predicted to worsen under the influence of climate change. The latter already impacts many physical and biological
systems, including the immunological and respiratory systems critical to human health. On the other hand, factors driving the increased incidence of T2D include urbanization, sedentary lifestyle and obesity (more than 80% of
people diagnosed with T2D are either overweight or obese).
PULSE aims to engage in a collaborative dialogue with a range of stakeholders across five global cities to transform public health from a reactive to a predictive system focused on both risk and resilience. In terms of public health risk, the project is focussed on the potential relation between air pollution and the respiratory disease of Asthma, and between physical inactivity and the metabolic disease of Type 2 Diabetes. In terms of public health resilience, PULSE is focussed on well-being in communities. The final goal is to build extensible models and technologies to predict, mitigate and manage public health problems, and promote population health, in cities.
The five pilots of the project– Paris, Barcelona, Birmingham, New York City and Singapore– can be defined as “Smart Cities”. “Smart Cities and Communities” embrace integrated IT infrastructure and solutions, and citizen services, across city sectors, including health.
To accomplish the transformation of public health systems, and stimulate the development of intersectoral policy in cities, PULSE leverages large amounts of data from city governments, health systems, and citizens. Beyond the collection of existing data, PULSE undertakes the following:
• implement a novel environmental/health surveillance system on air quality within specific neighbourhoods and model risk of exposure to polluted air for citizens, especially those with asthma;
• develop novel insights on the relationship between risk for the onset of T2D and environmental and behavioural factors;
• collect comprehensive data on individual and community well-being;
• model public health risk and resilience and develop tools and technologies to intervene and change behaviour – translating Big Data to Policy – with the municipal leaders of five cities.
During this period the needs and possible scenarios of the different end users (e.g. citizens, asthma and T2D patients, public health administrations, and communities) were identified through several methodologies such as focus groups, round tables and interviews with stakeholders and experts, as well as the review of secondary social, environmental and health data of each involved PULSE pilot city. The five urban test beds developed specific plans and protocols for PULSE deployment in each particular context and identified how data from PULSE air quality sensors will be integrated with the existing local sensors and open public city data. The definition of the implementation strategy was done as well as the design of the app for collecting data about personal health behaviours and well-being of the involved users. The design of the system components for Big Data cloud analytics, risk-adjusted decision support and behaviour change recognition were also carried out. All pilots identified their local challenges and carried out the required administrative work for the ethical approval and validation of participation. Different recruitment sessions took place in each pilot site for direct end users. In order to produce the air quality maps, a method was used based on the images of the MODIS satellite sensor. Up to now, 52 maps have been obtained from New York and 27 for Paris. The PULSE WebGIS has been developed as the tool for performing the spatial enablement of the data. A set of models were selected and implemented on the available datasets both in their original formulation and after their recalibration to model the risk of T2D and Asthma. In addition, this first period saw the dissemination strategy and communication framework established. Regarding exploitation, a preliminary market analysis has taken place including the identification by the individual partners of the products that could be commercialised in the future.
Consistent with the move to data-driven smart cities, and the adoption of ICT platforms in cities that enable the development and integration of multiple apps within the urban environment, PULSE will demonstrate the value of Big Data for government, citizens, businesses and communities within the context of an open data framework. PULSE will be the first project to harness the economic and societal benefit of the Big Data associated with the Internet of Things (IoT) in combination with context-aware human health data. Deploying a robust, multiperspectival geospatial analytics system will define a new paradigm for smart, healthy cities. The PULSE model of Big Data for Healthy Cities will become the precedent for future urban policy, and governance, and citizen engagement.
PULSE will leverage aspects of the urbanization process to redirect human behaviour (toward greater physical activity, and more sustainable transport choices, and away from risk-laden behaviour and polluted urban areas), and also raise awareness, improve population health and reduce health inequities. The high volume of data collected via PULSE interventions (apps and game) and PULSE infrastructure (e.g. the scalable high-density air quality sensor network) will be aggregated across several of the test beds in order to inform policy making. WHO Europe has recently advised that it is critical to develop, pilot and use new tools for both Evidence-Informed Policy Making and knowledge transfer, and to monitor and evaluate these tools. WHO Europe calls for capacity building and the sharing of learning via Communities of Practice (CoPs). PULSE will build on these recommendations and objectives by harnessing heterogeneous data related to environmental and human health at multiple spatio-temporal scales across the city, and creating both Communities of Practice (CoPs) relating to Health in All Policies, and open data platforms (Public Health Observatories).
Architecture of the project