Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Primary healthcare

Our ability to access public services has been used as one indicator of social inclusion and quality of life.

To help with transport planning and other aspects of policy, governments have measured the ease with which we can access education, and healthcare, using public transport, walking or cycling. They also measure our ability to reach food shops, and employment. It occurred to me that it would be interesting to know how well OSM content covers similar ground.

Since policy makers see access to such facilities as being important, perhaps there are creative ways in which OSM data could be used to make it easier for people to reach key public services?

At the moment I can’t see how to replicate the official measures exactly. I can't see an easy way of measuring completeness of food shops, but I can get somewhere near by trying to measure how well all shops are covered. In healthcare I can compare lists of NHS GPs, Pharmacies, Opticians and Dentists in England with those I can find in the OSM database. I'm not sure where to find similar data for Scotland and Wales. At some point it should be possible to produce a similar measure for schools, but I haven't got round to it yet.

Breaking the lists down by local authority, I reckon that Halton, Wokingham, Cambridgeshire, Islington, and Derby score particularly well mapping local healthcare, with around half of their facilities mapped. Luton, Blackburn, and Doncaster have the most healthcare facilities to add. In those authorities I can find less than 2% of the number of facilities I expected to see in the database.

Looking at both healthcare and retail together, most places show similar levels of coverage for both. Derby and Islington seem to have particularly good coverage of retail, alongside some of the highest coverage of healthcare facilities. Other areas that rank highly on both counts include Bedford, Birmingham, Cambridgeshire, Camden, Halton, Southwark, and Wokingham.

It's worth noting that I'm using government data as a way of measuring OSM data, not the other way round, and this is not to suggest that OSM should be deliberately working towards a comprehensive directory of this stuff. It is interesting, though, to speculate what kind of new applications might start to be viable as coverage develops.


Doug said...

I think Public Health is a fascinating subject, though I'm not in the NHS myself. Why do certain districts have health needs different to another and how can this be addressed (a rhetorical question)?

Harry Wood said...

I'd love to claim credit for mapping Islington points of interest, but I live in the northern extremity. The real mapping champion of Islington was user:Blumpsy, doing a massive area around here.

This is an interesting completeness measure. Maybe it helps reveal where most mapping by OS name copying has taken place.

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