Health and the built environment in U.S. cities: Measuring associations using Google Street View-derived indicators of the built environment


Background: The built environment is a structural determinant of health and has been shown to influence health expenditures, behaviors, and outcomes. Traditional methods of assessing built environment characteristics are time-consuming and difficult to combine or compare. Google Street View (GSV) images represent a large, publicly available data source that can be used to create indicators of characteristics of the physical environment with machine learning techniques. Methods: We used computer vision techniques to derive built environment indicators from approximately 31 million GSV images at 7.8 million intersections. Associations between derived indicators and health behaviors and outcomes on the census-tract level were assessed using multivariate regression models, controlling for demographic factors and socioeconomic position. Results: Street greenness was associated with decreased prevalence of physical and mental distress, as well as decreased binge drinking, but with increased obesity. Single lane roads were associated with increased diabetes and obesity, while non-single-family home buildings were associated with decreased obesity, diabetes and inactivity. Conclusions: Structural determinants of health such as the built environment can influence population health. Our study suggests that higher levels of urban development have mixed effects on health and adds further evidence that socioeconomic distress has adverse impacts on multiple physical and mental health outcomes.

Metadata Access
Creator Nguyen, Quynh C.
Publisher ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research
Contributor United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Library of Medicine
Publication Year 2019
OpenAccess true
Contact ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research
Resource Type Dataset; aggregate data, census/enumeration data, geographic information system (GIS) data, images: photographs, drawings, graphical representations, survey data
Discipline Social Sciences