In the summer of 2017, we conducted a research project at Waterloo Playground and the Whitman Branch of the Free Library, mapping movement patterns and physical activity using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) smart tags in conjunction with onsite antennas. The data from the technology resulted in heat maps of use, paths of travel, and energy expenditure, allowing us to better understand how the design of the built environment impacts health of local residents.
Within Philadelphia, statistics show that life expectancy is determined by one's zip code: 68 years in the area surrounding Waterloo Playground versus 88 years in Center City. Part of this drastic difference in life spans is due to the high levels of obesity in children and adults because of lack of exercise within different areas of the city.
One way we can tackle this issue is to promote parks and exercise through play. Play has decreased in the past years due to the lack of access to safe and appealing places to be outdoors. Half of the children in the US do not have a park, community center or sidewalk in their neighborhood--and this should change. If we are able to discover what it is about parks that promotes movement and play, we will have the ability to change the health of the residents of Philadelphia for the better.
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