HABITS Workshop: Improving the Evidence Base

The first HABIT’s workshop, entitled ‘Improving the Evidence Base’ was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on Wednesday 6th December 2017. The purpose of the workshop was to discuss current data gaps for the development of health, transport and air quality policy, and the potential of new and emerging forms of data, particularly smartphone Track and Trace (T&T) data. The workshop comprised presentations by HABITS team members and small group discussions on existing data sources, opportunities for the use of T&T data, current HABITs research activities (eg physical activity modelling and pollution exposure) and a potential T&T tool.

Invitations were targeted towards air quality, public health and transport planning practitioners and policy makers from local authorities in the North East of England. There were 15 attendees in total from eight councils (Newcastle, South Tyneside, Durham, Gateshead, Northumberland, Sunderland, Stockton-on-Tees and Darlington), as well as the Tees Valley Combined Authority and Public Health England (NE). There was an even participation by attendees working in transport and public health with interests related to air quality and modelling.

Issues were raised in the areas of representativeness, accurate reporting, data standards/protection and interoperability between different apps and their data.  Useful features of T&T data identified by the attendees included the potential to:

·         Allow the targeting of specific demographics.

·         Allow for gathering qualitative feedback that is often missing.

·         Challenge perceptions or assumptions on travel behaviours.

·         Overcome issues of dated or limited data

Useful Features that attendees would like to see in a potential tool included the ability to:

·         See both individuals and groups

·         Identify restrictions

·         Explore Accessibility

·         Explore the interaction between transport and physical activity

·         Explore AQ changes, such as those arising from local transport planning / Clean Air Zones

·         Consider future scenarios and  Future impacts

·         Support monitoring of scheme/interventions