Community Asset and Risk-Factor Surveillance Across Washington, DC
Funded by: Washington DC Department of Health
Project dates: July 2015 - June 2016
Principal Investigator: Kirchner, Thomas

Where and how people are born, grow, live, work and age — also referred to as “the social determinants of health” — are important factors for understanding individual and community health and wellness. This project implemented a community asset and risk factor surveillance system to assess social determinants of health – risk and protective factors – across Washington, DC. Unlike other community assessment systems currently in use, the project’s point-of-sale surveillance system features comprehensive, continual coverage.

The Washington, DC metropolitan area provided an ideal community-level “laboratory” for this purpose, because it is characterized by tremendous demographic variation and health-related disparities over a relatively small geographic area. The relatively small geographic size made it possible to systematically document the presence of risk and protective factors quickly and accurately. The surveillance system was comprehensive in its collection and archiving of photographic data; material was mined for features or content of interest. The project utilized a number of mobile camera and survey systems, including the study’s “streetview”-like point-of-view (POV) camera system (featuring custom POV camera equipment to which the team had exclusive access), to collect and process comprehensive photographic images.  This innovative system was grounded in experience with mobile data collection, community-level ecological measures, and point-of-sale assessment research.