Recent advances in creative science have demonstrated the potential to improve neighborhood health in a number of ways. For example, Dr. King, a behavioral health scientist and professor at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, has drawn on new data collection processes and technology to enhance the collective health of neighborhoods. A recent study that collected data from 720,000 individuals over a combined 68 million days found that the average number of steps taken varied widely from country to country and, of course, person to person.
Levels of physical activity are influenced by a number of neighborhood factors, including neighborhood walkability. Women are especially prone to inactivity in areas where they do not feel safe walking outdoors. Now in possession of data on a scale that could not be imagined just a few years ago, Dr. King and her team can investigate more deeply into causes of inactivity and driving elements of increased physical activity, such as safe outdoor spaces, access to public transportation, and maintaining walkable sidewalks.
Dr. King hopes these and future discoveries can be used in various aspects of urban planning, and that individuals can take a more immediate approach to addressing inactivity throughout their neighborhoods. The Our Voice app is a great place to start. The app allows local citizens to geo-code photos of community spaces in need of improvement.