(Re)Mapping Health with a grant from the Presidents January Innovation Fund

“(Re)Mapping Health,” a new initiative and course supported by the President’s January Innovation Fund, launched last week at the GSD. Led by an interdisciplinary faculty that includes Ingeborg Rocker (associate professor of architecture), Robert Gerard Pietrusko (lecturer in urban planning and design and landscape architecture), Caroline Shannon (MArch I candidate) and Ronak Patel (director of the urbanization and humanitarian emergencies program and instructor in medicine, HMS), the course brings together students from the GSD and the School of Public Health.
The students are employing mapping, data visualization, and other methods of design representation to explore urban health and health disparities. Using the most robust health data collected from informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya, the students are applying a design lens to public health issues to map these data in new and inventive ways. They will expose gaps and limits to standard representations of urban health data and city maps and probe new relationships between the urban space and health.  The results are intended to inform effective future research as well as to uncover new humanitarian and public health approaches.
The focus on urban informal settlements addresses a rapidly growing segment of the world’s population and a growing locus of health disparity. Informal settlements are notoriously underrepresented in terms of data collection spatial legibility, often making their inhabitants invisible to decision-makers. Their contested nature is an opportunity for students to speculate on the categories, measurements and maps that will be beneficial to the communities, urban planners, policymakers and public health professionals. This course will test the application of data analysis and visualization tools in developing effective, efficient solutions to complex problems in resource-limited settings.