Improving Health in Skid Row with GIS in “Community Health Scan”

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Using GIS Applications Outside the Classroom: Community Health Scan

Mia Poynor is currently an undergraduate junior studying International Health with a minor in Human Security and Geospatial Intelligence. She is the Programming Chair for SCmappers, the Youthmappers chapter for USC. Mia’s academic interests lie in health, disparities, community development, and disaster relief in an international context. She is very passionate to be a part of this integrative discipline and hopes to learn more about all GIS applications and how they relate to her interests.

Read Mia's Youthmappers blog post (April 16, 2018) about her experiences using the power of GIS to improve the health of a local community in the course SSCI 340: Community Health Scan.

In this course, Mia and her classmates studied Skid Row, an area in South Los Angeles that is synonymous for homelessness, poverty, and poor health outcomes. The research framework consisted of three parts: primary data collection, the creation of geospatial maps, and a proposed intervention based on our primary data.

Using Collector for ArcGIS, an application part of the ArcSuite that utilizes the GPS technology in mobile devices to easily collect data in the field, Mia and her classmates surveyed the number of existing health, food, housing, transportation, commercial, and educational resources in the area. After collecting their primary data, they used census data and city specific data from the Los Angeles County Geospatial Data Portal to create intermediate maps.

Mia and her partner produced this final map as part of a collection of other maps related to commercial influence, housing, health, and other resources. Based on their data collection and the interviews they conducted, their proposal presented to a panel of USC professors focused on affordable housing access and a green space with a recreation center where events could occur and resources could be easily obtained.

This course reaffirmed Mia's passion for health and betterment of a community by incorporating the community’s perspective and the value of using GIS to help communities in the future.

Well done, Mia, her SSCI 340: Community Health Scan classmates, and faculty members Dr. Darren Ruddell and Dr. Dennis Green!

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