Urban sprawl and the convenience of various technologies has led to increasingly sedentary lifestyles, reduced physical activity and easier access to unhealthy food. Studies in Canada have also shown that chronic diseases and conditions linked to unhealthy living are on the rise.
Improving our neighbourhoods to reverse this trend is the obvious answer — but we need to better understand our physical environment to do this effectively and efficiently. In other words, we need to assess critical elements of our neighbourhoods that have positive or negative effects on both individual residents and the larger community.
MaRS is looking for innovators to identify and/or create new data sets, data sources and methodologies to improve our understanding of physical environments and promote healthy living. The relationship between space and the health of residents is complex. However, with the right design fueled by the right data, we can improve our neighbourhoods by giving people healthier choices.
What are the Data Gaps?
There is a lack of relevant, easily accessible, up-to-date and scalable information sources that can define and quantify our physical environment. This has limited the ability of community builders and other stakeholders to make informed decisions. Given these limitations, we now have an opportunity to create new data sources and tap into existing ones to enhance our understanding of communities and begin to design neighbourhoods that improve people’s health.