What Happened to the Built Environment in One Year? Atlas of Change in Scotland 2016 to 2017
Our neighbourhood environments change and evolve often; some changes are minor, while others involve major transformation. Change can take various forms; green space created or removed, existing housing or amenities demolished, new housing estates built, new motorways created, or existing transport infrastructure modified or extended. Change may affect neighbourhood residents’ physical or mental health, or health-related behaviours, to their benefit or to their detriment. To study how change in our neighbourhoods might affect our health we need robust information but data showing how our neighbourhoods are changing, at a fine geographic scale, for the whole of Scotland, did not exist – until now. This is why we created the atlas and an interactive mapping application.
The UK has some of the best longitudinal data (that is, where repeated observations of the same subjects are collected at various points over time to study change), about people’s lives and their health in the world. This information has proved incredibly useful in understanding health, including how differences in the health of the most and least deprived have developed over time, and how changes in peoples’ individual circumstances can affect their chances of good health.
In order to understand the role of neighbourhood in protecting or harming health, we also need longitudinal data on environment which we could join to these data on individuals. Some environmental characteristics, such as air pollution, are quite well captured over time but there is a particular gap in data about the built and natural environment. The built environment refers to man-made surroundings that provide settings for human activity…