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UC researchers part of global pilot to make cities healthier

UC researchers part of global pilot to make cities healthier

June 26, 2013

University of Canterbury (UC) researchers are part of a global sensor project to make Christchurch healthier as the city recovers.

UC geography experts Dr Malcolm Campbell and Professor Simon Kingham are investigating sensor technology - either on a person or embedded in the city - to collect real time and local precise data which can be used to more accurately measure different types of environment issues.

``For example, we could monitor use of an inhaler to see if a person is active or not and the level or air pollution simultaneously,'' Dr Campbell says.

``We are seeking to collect data through sensors in the city to better understand people's everyday lives, to help people to stay healthy and to have prosperous lives.

``This will integrate health, information, public infrastructure and knowledge with fundamental technology to become a driver of economic growth and sustainable innovation. We will form a base where can people meet and discuss a new sustainable society.

``This will be a geo-life region, which is a cluster, an engine, and a community where varied competence, research, data and geo-technology components connect to make innovation happen.’’

The UC Geo-health Lab is part of an international collaboration creating a geo-life-region with other academics in the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Australia. Industry and government partners worldwide are also involved.

Dr Campbell recently returned from Gavle, in Sweden, where he was part of a think tank and geo-health workshop to formulate a proposal for funding to create geo-life-regions.

``The sensor city concept is a cutting-edge opportunity to combine different types of spatial and sensor technology in the infrastructure of Christchurch to create healthier communities.

``If the study is funded, Christchurch will be a pilot for the global sensor city projects along with Gavle, Buffalo (New York) and Perth.

``If new technology is created as part of this larger research programme, it has the potential to impact positively on the burden of disease in New Zealand by reducing, for example, rates of obesity or severity of respiratory conditions such as Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or implications in an ageing population as we could monitor and respond to health conditions among the elderly.’’

Dr Campbell says they plan to research health issues using sensors in collaboration with the Canterbury District Health Board.

ENDS

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