Data Processing

Monitoring changes in the built environment: tobacco retailers in Scotland

Introduction The built environment is constantly changing. Whether it be short-term changes - e.g. roadworks, or long-term, e.g. a new road. These changes can impact exposures (air pollutants from road traffic), behaviours (decision to drive to work) or health (risk of being in a traffic accident). It’s therefore important to monitor the changes to the built environment so that interventions can be developed to reduce risk to health either directly or indirectly (exposure/behaviour).

How to build a Social Fragmentation Index using census variables

Background The Social Fragmentation Index (SFI) was developed by Peter Congdon. The indicator aims to use census variables to capture (for small areas across the country) aspects of the local population that may reflect a greater collective risk of social fragmentation/lack of social cohesion. The census variables are proxies for these risk factors, rather than ‘direct’ indicators. It focusses on risk due to potentially high levels of isolation and residential instability of members of the population.

What are the optional courses like for UoE MSc students?

The aim was to understand more about the optional courses available for MSc students in the school of Geosciences. This meant building a dataframe that contained the interesting bits of information available on the University of Edinburgh website so that I could query it to find out answers to questions such as: How many 10 credit courses are available? Which degree cluster do the courses belong to and is there any overlap?

Google Earth Engine: NDVI in Scotland 2001-2017

Introduction Motivation I’m interested in a long-term small-area level measure of ‘green spaces’, features of the natural environment that are important for a wide variety of health outcomes.

Green spaces over time There are two major green space datasets for Scotland, Scotland’s Greenspace Map 2011 and the Ordnance Survey’s Greenspace Map 2017. These maps were produced by characterising OS polygons using aerial photos, with the latter updated every 6 months from July 2017.

NetCDF in R

NetCDF stands for “Network Common Data Format” and was created by ‘unidata’ for handling large geospatial data. Here’s a short description from their website: “NetCDF is a set of software libraries and self-describing, machine-independent data formats that support the creation, access, and sharing of array-orientated scientific data.” NetCDF files are containers for dimensions, variables and global atttributes. It’s used to store climatology, meteorology and oceanography data by over 1,300 organisations including NOAA and EUMETSAT.

Nudging people to make healthy behaviour choices

Nudge theory made it big after the 2008 book by Thaler and Sunstein gathered some high profile readers (Obama, Cameron etc). Alongside public health officials and politicians, researchers have been interested in using the theory to influence people to make ‘healthy’ behaviour choices. The central tenant of the theory is based around libertarian paternalism, or influencing an individual’s ‘choice architecture’ without coercion. Nudge-type interventions (e.g. nutritional labeling, size of serving dishes) have been used to tackle obesity and were found to increase ‘healthy’ behaviours by 15.