Exploring the Linkages among Urban Form Travel Behavior, and Public Health with Person-Level Data from Smart-Phone Applications

The interaction between the built environment, travel behavior and public health is now a major concern for both researchers and urban planners. Currently, there is little empirical research that explores and examines the relationship between each of them. On the other hand, there has been a rapid increase in the use of smartphones in the United States (US) as central computer and communication devices. With the use of many embedded sensors, it is now feasible to conduct extensive surveys through tailored applications. The objective of this study is two-fold: (1) to develop a Smartphone Application that would serve as a platform to collect high-quality person-level travel behavior and health data; and (2) to analyze the influence of urban form and daily activity-travel patterns of an individual on his/her health conditions. Smartphone Applications (for both Android and iPhone) will be used in collecting user's complete activity data over the defined period. The application shall automatically record data for long periods without user intervention and consequent data collection errors. Trip variables such as mode, departure time and duration shall be estimated based on the collected data. The health conditions of each individual as well as other general health related information such as physical activity (exercise) and access to health care will be recorded through a web-based health survey after the deployment of the Application. The built environment characteristics of the immediate home or work locations of the travelers will be measured using residential and employment densities, level of mixed use, street connectivity, and distance from the Central Business District (CBD). These built environment factors then can be combined and used as one unique variable called urban form score, lower score indicating low-density suburban areas and higher score indicating a high density, well mixed, and pedestrian friendly neighborhood, a specific form. These variables shall be considered along with demographics and regression analysis performed to understand the relationship between them. The results would be studied to understand whether there are significant differences between different groups with different socio-demographic characteristics, neighborhood of residence and general health. The direction and strength of the relationship is examined. Such information combined with the demographic information may be beneficial in understanding the behavior of travelers to various destinations. Finally, the perceived importance of the linkages between these variables is weighed against the actual correlation values between these variables. Obtained results would also help identify how policy decisions should consider all three entities before being undertaken.


    • English


    • Status: Active
    • Funding: $63832.00
    • Contract Numbers:



    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Mid-Atlantic Universities Transportation Center

      Pennsylvania State University
      201 Transportation Research Building
      University Park, PA  United States  16802-4710
    • Performing Organizations:

      University of Maryland, College Park

      College Park, MD  United States  20742
    • Principal Investigators:

      Zhang, Lei

    • Start Date: 20120601
    • Expected Completion Date: 0
    • Actual Completion Date: 20130831
    • Source Data: RiP Project 31796

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01467330
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: Mid-Atlantic Universities Transportation Center
    • Contract Numbers: DTRT12-G-UTC03, UMD-2012-03
    • Files: UTC, RIP
    • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 3:32PM