Primary Menu

Education, Events, Publication

Funding & Recognition

Fall Risk Mapping: Visualizing Fall-related Injuries among Older Adults across the United States

Summer 2024

Project Background

The global population is aging at an unprecedented rate, with older adults constituting a rapidly growing demographic group. As individuals age, their mobility and physical resilience often decline, making them more vulnerable to various environmental hazards, especially when navigating outdoor spaces. Especially, older adults are vulnerable to falls in outdoor settings, posing serious risks to their health and quality of life. Identifying fall-related injuries and associated risk factors is crucial to enhancing the safety and well-being of older adults. This research aims to address the pressing issue of falls among older adults and associated risk factors to create safer and healthier communities for this vulnerable population.

Our primary goal is to systematically identify and visualize fall-related injuries among older adults that pose risks to their safety and wellbeing. This involves pursuing three specific objectives:

1. Fall Injury Assessment: Exploring fall-related injuries of older adults to understand how specific conditions and obstacles impact their safety and wellbeing

2. Fall Risk Identification: Examining environmental risk factors associated with fall injuries for older adults by reviewing literature and analyzing data

3. GIS Mapping and Spatial Analysis: Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and spatial analysis techniques to create detailed fall-risk maps pinpointing areas with higher risks for older adults

Student Role

The student will examine the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) data to identify and visualize fall-related injuries among older adults across the United States. The project mentor has access to the EMS data and built environment data associated with fall injuries. The student will work closely with the project mentor and collaborator from the School of Computing for the analysis and visualization of fall-related injuries.

The student is not expected to have any prior knowledge or technical experience; however, the associated tasks will require the student to learn new skills and technologies under the mentor's instruction. These include programming (R, Python), data and document management (Google Drive, Github), report writing, and data visualization.

Student Learning Outcomes and Benefits

The student will learn concepts and methods from interdisciplinary fields, such as urban planning, data science, and public health. The students will also learn some of the methods and principles in conducting applied urban research through a team-based environment. The project tasks will help students develop and practice abilities in data management, exploratory data analysis, communication, and oral and written presentation. Students will also participate in the IRB (institutional review board) application and learn about ethics in applied research.

We anticipate that these experiences and abilities will support students' applications for graduate programs or jobs related to urban planning, data science, and public health. The project's results, including the source code and reports, will also be made publicly accessible in open repositories, enabling students to share their findings and add them to their resumes, curriculum vitae, and other related papers.

Andy Hong

Assistant Professor
Architecture & Planning
City & Metropolitan Planning

The student and the project mentor will schedule a regular time to talk about the project's activities as well as more general advice regarding research and career planning. During these sessions, the student will also receive instruction or assistance with concepts or technology related to their project. If the student is from the University of Utah, he/she will have a desk space in the Warnock Engineering Building, provided by our collaborator from the School of Computing.

The student is encouraged to take charge of the project and suggest their own innovations and technology. Potential technologies to investigate and resources for preliminary independent research may be recommended by the mentor.

In order to guide the project toward success from both urban planning and computer science sides, the student will also meet with the project mentor and partners in computer science. The student will further be included in group meetings with the project mentor's research group (Healthy Aging and Resilient Places Lab,