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Developing the Future of Libraries: Phase I Sub-Grant Projects


Mapping urban healthscapes: Bringing together big data and empathic cultural maps in a knowledge transfer and exchange project


  • Suzanne Goopy, Associate Professor, Faculty of Nursing
  • Tanvir Turin Chowdhury, Assistant Professor, Cumming School of Medicine
  • Anusha Kassan, Assistant Professor, Werklund School of Education, Counselling Psychology
  • Mary Grantham O’Brien, Professor, School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures, and Cultures
  • Gavin McCormack, Associate Professor, Cumming School of Medicine / Faculty of Environmental Design
  • Jonathan Chapman, Programs Coordinator, Liveable Streets Division, City of Calgary
  • Irina Charania, Simulation Consultant, Cumming  School of Medicine
  • Carla Ferreira, Instructor, Clinical Simulation Learning Centre, Faculty of Nursing


This project will build on data collected through the Barriers to Walkability project to create an interactive visual map – the Urban Healthscapes Map – that brings together various traditional GIS big data maps (e.g. demographic, community development, transit, and various hotspot maps) with a new type of map – the empathic cultural map, which offers detailed, qualitative insights into individual and group experiences of living and working in a particular area. Empathic cultural mapping will present the data from the cultural probes on a geographical map, showing people’s interactions with the world around them through their own cultural lens (e.g. how they use green spaces, how they use transit, where they go and why). Data from the cultural probes also help to show how these practices are culturally mediated (e.g. the importance of going to a mosque or meeting people in a public place such as Marlborough mall).

The Urban Healthscapes Map will offer users a way of seeing, and better understanding, how big data is related and what it might mean when read against empathic cultural data. Users will be able to see links across data not traditionally evident and through this identify important facilitators, blockers or constraints relevant to health. The map will, at a click, highlight upstream (for example, what factors affect use of green spaces for family activities) and downstream (for example, the impact of this use or non-use) relationships.

The map offers KTE that is accessible and meaningful. It will initially be created using data collected as part of the Barriers to Walkability project to create an empathic cultural map and layered using geographic information system (GIS) big data maps (available from the City and through the University). Once established, the Urban Healthscapes Map can be added to as new data sets emerge from other future (or past) projects.   The Urban Healthscapes Map will celebrate the cultural, social, and everyday health experiences of participants from the parent study, inform actual or future program and city planning, offer insight for researchers across disciplines, and provide an educational tool for use in simulation-enhanced interprofessional education (Sim-IPE).