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A ubiquitous method for street scale spatial data collection and analysis in challenging urban environments: mapping health risks using spatial video in Haiti

Andrew Curtis1*, Jason K Blackburn23, Jocelyn M Widmer4 and J Glenn Morris Jr3

Author Affiliations

1 GIS, Health & Hazards Lab, Department of Geography, Kent State University, Kent, OH, 44242, USA

2 Spatial Epidemiology & Ecology Research Laboratory, Department of Geography, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 32610, USA

3 Emerging Pathogens Institute, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 32610, USA

4 Urban Affairs and Planning, School of Public and International Affairs, Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, VA, 24061, USA

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International Journal of Health Geographics 2013, 12:21  doi:10.1186/1476-072X-12-21

Published: 15 April 2013



Fine-scale and longitudinal geospatial analysis of health risks in challenging urban areas is often limited by the lack of other spatial layers even if case data are available. Underlying population counts, residential context, and associated causative factors such as standing water or trash locations are often missing unless collected through logistically difficult, and often expensive, surveys. The lack of spatial context also hinders the interpretation of results and designing intervention strategies structured around analytical insights. This paper offers a ubiquitous spatial data collection approach using a spatial video that can be used to improve analysis and involve participatory collaborations. A case study will be used to illustrate this approach with three health risks mapped at the street scale for a coastal community in Haiti.


Spatial video was used to collect street and building scale information, including standing water, trash accumulation, presence of dogs, cohort specific population characteristics, and other cultural phenomena. These data were digitized into Google Earth and then coded and analyzed in a GIS using kernel density and spatial filtering approaches. The concentrations of these risks around area schools which are sometimes sources of diarrheal disease infection because of the high concentration of children and variable sanitary practices will show the utility of the method. In addition schools offer potential locations for cholera education interventions.


Previously unavailable fine scale health risk data vary in concentration across the town, with some schools being proximate to greater concentrations of the mapped risks. The spatial video is also used to validate coded data and location specific risks within these “hotspots”.


Spatial video is a tool that can be used in any environment to improve local area health analysis and intervention. The process is rapid and can be repeated in study sites through time to track spatio-temporal dynamics of the communities. Its simplicity should also be used to encourage local participatory collaborations.

Spatial video; Informal settlements; Haiti; Cholera