Emerging Trends in Connecting Public Health and the Built Environment


Speakers:†††††††††††††††††† Valerie Rogers, MPH

Program Manager, NACCHO

Ellen M. Bassett

Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Planning

Michigan State University


Level of Knowledge: Multi-Level


Short Abstract:


Given the range of health implications related to land use and community design decisions it is pertinent that health considerations are prioritized in community design processes.While local health departments (LHDs) have been increasingly partnering with local planning departments to address built environment issues, LHDs are also learning to use planning tools such as GIS to consider key community issues and connect all hazards preparedness issues with local planning efforts.This session will explore a local health departmentís partnership with their local planning agency and use of GIS to address environmental health issues related to community design and also learn how a state connected all-hazards preparedness to planning efforts.


Long Abstract:


The intractable nature of various widespread health problems is what leads public health officials to study, consider, and acknowledge the environmental factors such as land use, auto-dependent communities, and neighborhood and community design and development and their effects on health.The expanding role of local environmental/public health professionals to more thoroughly address the broad public health impacts resulting from built environment decisions necessitates innovative utilization of tools such as GIS and health impact assessments, cross-training with the non-environmental health sector such as the planning and transportation area, and expansion and implementation of non-technical skills (mainly community outreach and education).Developing and sustaining healthy communities through support of the above mentioned comprehensive approaches is critical to promoting safe and healthy communities and moves us closer to meeting the Core Functions of Public Health and the Ten Essential Services.†† This interactive session will provide: a) overview of the utility of different tools (e.g. GIS, health impact assessment), to proactively address health risks associated with built environment decisions; b) recommendations to increasing the roles of local public health agencies in the land use planning process; and c) an interactive discussion about related issues (i.e., data needs) and future action steps.


Learning Objectives:


  1. Use community planning strategies to apply public health messages to advance work around built environment issues
  2. Determine their departmentís ability to use innovate tools (GIS, health impact assessment) for research or program planning.
  3. Determine if their preparedness efforts can contribute to community design decisions and vice versa.