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In International journal of health geographics

BACKGROUND : The health burden in developing world informal settlements often coincides with a lack of spatial data that could be used to guide intervention strategies. Spatial video (SV) has proven to be a useful tool to collect environmental and social data at a granular scale, though the effort required to turn these spatially encoded video frames into maps limits sustainability and scalability. In this paper we explore the use of convolution neural networks (CNN) to solve this problem by automatically identifying disease related environmental risks in a series of SV collected from Haiti. Our objective is to determine the potential of machine learning in health risk mapping for these environments by assessing the challenges faced in adequately training the required classification models.

RESULTS : We show that SV can be a suitable source for automatically identifying and extracting health risk features using machine learning. While well-defined objects such as drains, buckets, tires and animals can be efficiently classified, more amorphous masses such as trash or standing water are difficult to classify. Our results further show that variations in the number of image frames selected, the image resolution, and combinations of these can be used to improve the overall model performance.

CONCLUSION : Machine learning in combination with spatial video can be used to automatically identify environmental risks associated with common health problems in informal settlements, though there are likely to be variations in the type of data needed for training based on location. Success based on the risk type being identified are also likely to vary geographically. However, we are confident in identifying a series of best practices for data collection, model training and performance in these settings. We also discuss the next step of testing these findings in other environments, and how adding in the simultaneously collected geographic data could be used to create an automatic health risk mapping tool.

Ajayakumar Jayakrishnan, Curtis Andrew J, Rouzier Vanessa, Pape Jean William, Bempah Sandra, Alam Meer Taifur, Alam Md Mahbubul, Rashid Mohammed H, Ali Afsar, Morris John Glenn