In partnership with cities and citizens, INTERACT is harnessing big data to deliver timely public health intelligence on the influence of real world urban form interventions on population health—generating local evidence and action to advance the design of smart, sustainable, and healthier cities for all. 

Our natural experiment studies investigate key questions that are both researcher and stakeholder-driven to advance the science on healthy cities, while meeting the evidence needs of the people designing them. Our focus is on the influence of changes in urban form on physical activity, social participation, and well-being, and the complex interactions and inequalities at play across exposures, outcomes, and population groups. By integrating innovative methods in mobile sensing and geographic information science, our research is helping to address crucial challenges in the measurement of exposures and outcomes in urban intervention research. 

Below are some of the questions currently driving our research program.

Physical Activity

Is increased exposure to active transportation infrastructure associated with greater use of active transportation?

Are changes in exposure to active transportation infrastructure associated with more physical activity, transport-related and overall?

 

Intervention Context

Do perceptions of urban form changes differ by gender and socio-economic status?

How are constructs of social participation and well-being conceptualized? Viewpoints of citizens, stakeholders, and researchers.

What are participants’ experience of place as it pertains to physical activity, social participation, and well-being?

 

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Social Participation

What types of urban environments are associated with greater social participation?

Are urban form changes related to changes in social participation?

How does the nature of one’s social network relate to daily mobility, and usage of urban form interventions?

Methods

What are methods for detection of transportation mode using accelerometer and GPS data?

How can changes in urban form be measured over time?

Well-being

How are urban form environments associated with well-being?

How do individuals experience urban environments, and how does this relate to well-being?

How do active transportation trips relate to feelings of well-being?

Knowledge Mobilization

What community level and contextual factors are at play in the implementation of urban form interventions?

What are stakeholders’ perceptions of factors that influence the success or failure of urban form interventions, and how does this vary across interventions and cities?