For parents trying to help their children stay healthy or battle obesity the journey to and from school can become a gauntlet of junk food outlets which their largely unsupervised children must run, often unsuccessfully.

In a bid to help councils, schools, parents and public health advocates Griffith Health Institute research fellow and spatial scientist Ori Gudes developed Epidoros, a mapping tool which allows planners to input relationship information to tell a more vivid story about the health of their neighbourhoods.

A public health map

This could include the location of elderly people in relation to public transport, after hours GPs in relation to population in high risk or the proximity of junk food outlets to schools.

GHI, working in collaboration with the Logan Beaudesert Health Coalition (LBHC), researched over 31 statistical local areas within the boundaries of the LBHC. Dr Gudes compiled, geo-coded and spatially analysed data on a vast array of health-related topics.

“I aimed for real evidence, data that could genuinely inform the actions of health decision-makers,” Dr Gudes said.

Richer content for decision-makers

The project was led by Professor Elizabeth Kendell and aimed to get people working together to solve longer terms problems by proving relevant and compelling information

“The data available up to now has been largely based on disease rates and hospital beds,” Professor Kendall says.

“Planners had little access to data that addressed the broad determinants of health, such as the environment, financial resources, socio-economic measurements or community assets. We needed a way of building knowledge to underpin this different approach to health planning.”

Epidoros is currently being used by decision makers in Queensland Health, Greater Metro South Brisbane Medicare Local and Logan City Council. The group is now intending to expand its dataset, functionality (especially developing new analytical tools) and improving its usability and interface.