Image Processing Reference
some of the methods they highlighted for linking people, place, and the environment
are applicable in an urban or suburban setting.
Other types of health and well-being applications have also been explored.
Fugate ( 2003 ) utilized quantitative measures of the physical environment derived
from remotely sensed data to investigate the role of environmental context in rela-
tion to child health in Cairo, Egypt. In a study of intra-urban variability of fertility
in Cairo, Egypt, Weeks et al. ( 2004 ) used imagery from the IRS sensor and process-
ing methods such as spectral mixture analysis to obtain quantitative measures of
environmental context, such as the amount of green space and the percentage of
impervious materials in urban neighborhoods. They were then able to characterize
in a quantitative manner the built and natural environment in each neighborhood.
This is a good example of how, through the use of remotely sensed imagery, we can
extract measures or details about the physical environment that can then be linked
to the socio-economic environment.
In a novel approach to create an alternative to the urban/rural dichotomy for
social science research, Weeks et al. ( 2005 ) developed an urbanness index derived
from a combination of remotely sensed imagery and census data. As discussed in
detail in Chapter 3, the urbanness index was developed based on the hypothesis that
some variability in human behavior may be captured in surrogate form by knowl-
edge of the built environment (gained through the use of remotely sensed data) and
census measures, which act as proxy measures of the social environment.
Public health applications of remote sensing show much promise, and as such
are worth reviewing here for their utility in quantifying features of the landscape
and how they may affect health. This can of course be applied to both urban and
rural places. The use of remote sensing has shown most success in the identification
and monitoring of vector habitats, and thus allowing epidemiologists to make some
level of disease predictions. Through the use of remotely sensed imagery the pres-
ence of specific vegetative cover, water, specific temperatures ranges, and elevation
can all be used to characterize potential vector habitats. Tatem and Hay ( 2004 )
provide an up to date review of remote sensing and health in relation to urban envi-
ronments. They also explore the potential of remote sensing for malaria research in
an urban context. The use of remote sensing (and GIS) in the field of epidemiology
has been most successful due to the capability to monitor environmental aspects of
the earth's surface that are related to vector habitat. Considering the pace of urban-
ization, especially in developing countries, the public health community must
refocus some of its efforts towards urban places.
In an attempt to synthesize the development and growth of urban remote sens-
ing, this chapter presented the most prominent aspects of the evolution of
imaging sensor systems and urban remote sensing applications over the past