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Omar De La Riva (MUP ‘17) Uses GIS to Bridge Communities with Local Health Clinics in Mexico

Supporting communities through technology innovation is both an academic and personal passion for Omar De La Riva (MUP '17). Contributing his expertise in spatial analysis, De La Riva spent his past summer working with the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS), in Mexico City, to build local capacity in better understanding the implications of urban growth and its impact on access to health clinics.

During his time in Mexico, De La Riva was tasked with creating a system to aid the department of Coordinación y Planificación de Infraestructura Médica (CPIM) within IMSS in selecting new sites for the development of new health clinics. His research took him both to Mexico City and the state of Guanajuato to meet with local officials and visit existing clinics and those under construction. In developing new locations, the IMSS was concerned with better understanding where urban growth was occurring, and where it was heading.

Using spatial analysis, De La Riva worked with statistical data collected by several colleagues at MIT to begin building a tool that could assess available parcels for future health clinics. Some of the key measures in considering a preferred site were proximity to highways, population saturation, and vulnerability. Using satellite imagery to extrapolate areas of growth, De La Riva was able to demonstrate inconsistencies in the distance traveled by residents in different areas of Guanajuato. By producing visual representations of his network analysis of existing clinics, De La Riva convinced administrators of these disparities.

A report is currently in progress, in collaboration with students from MIT, and arrangements are underway to develop similar analyses for other Mexican states.