PULSE (Participatory Urban Living for Sustainable Environments)™ is a new international project funded by the European Commission (Horizon 2020) to undertake research and innovation in cities in Europe, the United States and Asia. The project began at the close 2016 and will continue for three years.
The PULSE Project will engage in a collaborative dialogue with a range of stakeholders across five global cities - Paris, Barcelona, Birmingham, New York and Singapore - to transform public health from a reactive to a predictive system, focused on both risk and resilience.
The five cities with which we are collaborating – Paris, Barcelona, Birmingham, New York and Singapore – can be defined as “Smart Cities”.
"Smart Cities and Communities” embrace integrated IT infrastructure and solutions, and citizen services, across city sectors, including health.
To accomplish the transformation of public health systems, and stimulate the development of intersectoral policy in cities, the PULSE Project will leverage large amounts of data from city governments, health systems, and citizens (via sensing technologies and social media).
We have chosen to work directly with cities in response to the EU Urban Agenda, the White House Smart Cities Initiative and the Singapore government's Smart Nation plan.
The PULSE Project will act as a bridge between the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Smart Cities and Communities, and the WHO Healthy Cities initiative (Phase VI).
The EIP on Smart Cities and Communities emphasizes the need for better planning, and a more participatory approach, in cities – an approach underscored by the Paris Declaration (2014) on EU integration of transport, health and the environment, and the Barcelona Declaration (2015) on integrated solutions to tackle air pollution and noise in EU cities. The goals of the WHO Healthy Cities initiative (Phase VI, 2014-2018) resonate with these priorities: targeting improved leadership and participatory governance for health; strengthened people-centered systems and public health capacity; and more resilient communities and supportive environments in cities.
The global cities involved in the PULSE Project are members of several networks, e.g. EUROCITIES, C40Cities and 100 Resilient Cities. We will be leveraging these networks within the PULSE Project.
1. The traditional model of public health is no longer fit-for-purpose in 21st century cities
2. New social and environmental crises necessitate better models of planning and service delivery
3. Big data (and open data), and data science, are fundamental to reframing traditional models of public health are key to creating new approaches and pathways to prevention, and the mitigation and management of health issues and problems
The overall goal of the PULSE Project is to build extensible models and technologies to predict, mitigate and manage public health problems and promote community health in cities.
Our emphasis is on environmental and behavioral risk of disease onset in urban environments.
In terms of public health risk, we will focus on the link between air pollution and the respiratory disease of Asthma, and between physical inactivity and the metabolic disease of Type 2 Diabetes (T2D).
In terms of public health resilience, we will focus on wellbeing in communities.
Global cities faces numerous risks , ranging from climate change to terrorism. All these risks impact the public sphere, and have a potential adverse effect on population health.
In the PULSE Project, we will adopt a four-level model of risk embracing
Within PULSE, health risk is understood to be a combination of environmental and social exposures (e.g. air pollution, poverty) and human behavior (e.g. sedentary lifestyle).
The PULSE Project will leverage aspects of the urbanization process to redirect human behavior (toward greater physical activity, and more sustainable transport choices, and away from risk-laden behavior and polluted urban areas), and also raise awareness, improve population health and reduce health inequities.
The unique approach of PULSE lies in a joined up approach to understanding risk factors combined with a joined up approach to policy making.
Air quality is a major issue for urban populations, economies and environments.
Around 90 % of city dwellers in the EU are exposed to pollutant concentration levels above the limit and target values set in EU legislation and WHO Air Quality Guidelines. Air pollution has also become one of the top environmental concerns in South East Asia and India.
Individual EU cities continue to experience serious problems with air pollution. In Paris, over 11 million inhabitants in Ile-de-France were exposed to levels of fine particles (PM 2.5) that exceeded WHO guidelines in 2015. Roadside exposure was up to three times higher than acceptable limits. The Paris Action Plan for Air Quality was released by Mayor Hildago in March, 2015.
Climate change currently impacts many physical and biological systems, including the immunological and respiratory systems critical to human health.
Climate change will continue to directly aggravate respiratory disease, and/or increase exposure to respiratory disease risk factors. Climate change has been defined as a 'massive threat' to respiratory health in the EU.
There is an urgent need to deploy a real-time emissions measurement system, combined with human health data, in urban environments. The PULSE Project will take up this challenge by deploying an extensible environmental measuring and monitoring system in five global cities. We will also provide customized mobility guidance for citizens, advocacy groups, businesses, and city administrations.
Cities are burdened by high levels of non-communicable diseases. The increasing incidence, earlier onset, and aging populations in cities, create a multiplier effect.
Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) has been called the 'plague of the 21st century'. T2D has also been described as the 'hidden enemy' as symptoms of the disease may not be apparent for some time.
Factors driving the increased incidence of T2D include urbanization, sedentary lifestyle and obesity.
There is an urgent need to optimize the impact of lifestyle changes within a data-driven individualized approach to the prevention and management of T2D. The PULSE Project takes up this challenge via the development of clinician-facing, patient- and citizen-facing tools and technologies based on advanced clinical analytics.
Within the PULSE Project, we will develop new tools and technologies to measure wellbeing in cities. The goal is to build understandings of the relationship between community health resilience (CHR), and resilience at the individual scale. We will use data from numerous sources to generate community and individual matrices of risk and resilience.
We will rely on the following to define this field:
PULSE will be the first research and innovation project to infuse Smart City models with insights from Precision Medicine.
Consistent with the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) launched by the NIH, the PULSE Project will use clinical informatics and multiscale models, and mobile and wireless sensor technologies, to assess the physiological, behavioral and environmental parameters of health in the urban context.
These insights will enable personalized, predictive and responsive just-in-time interventions to be designed and delivered to citizens and communities.
Participants in the PULSE Project will have access to their data, and be eligible to receive decision support regarding health-improving behaviors. Our participants will be research and innovation partners in the PULSE Project.
The acquisition of heterogeneous data from numerous sources, and the development of customized preventive interventions, will define a new model and set of practices for Precision Public Health.
Specifically, we will invite citizens and communities to work directly with us on the following:
Within the PULSE project, we will create a digital platform for citizen and community engagement. We will utilize specific social media channels to engage, inspire and assist citizens of all ages and backgrounds to share experiences and views:
The PULSE Project will develop Public Health Observatories within five global cities to integrate, in an open format, environmental sensing data, community health and transport data, and to deliver visualizations, dashboards, analytical tools and reports to inform, and support, resilient and sustainable cities.
Further, the PULSE Project will deliver an ecosystem of Public Health Observatories across these urban sites to support intra- and inter-city dialogue, sharing and learning based on real-time data, big data and predictive analytics in the context of urban sustainability and health resilience.
The PULSE Communities of Practice, and Learning Platform, will integrate with the linked Public Health Observatories.
The PULSE project will acquire and generate very large datasets characterized by diversity and complexity e.g. the 2D/3D maps of the urban test beds, the orthophotos, the satellite optical, multispectral, and hyperspectral images, the environmental quality maps, data from apps, smart devices and augmented objects. These datasets will be characterized by their velocity (as several of the above listed items will quickly change over time) and their variety (different structures and formats).
In order to carry out effective data analysis and knowledge extraction, datasets must be well organized and made interoperable.
Furthermore, in order to involve citizens and stakeholders, data and results of analysis must be easily accessible.
In the PULSE Project, we will develop a Web Geographical Information System (PULSE WebGIS).
The PULSE WebGIS will store data and models, and allow citizens and stakeholders to query and visualize these data and models.
The PULSE WebGIS, will be a core element of the PULSE Public Health Observatories.
The PULSE Project will convene a Business Council to support the exploitation strategy and the design of business models. The Business Council will involve several industry leaders (up to 10 companies), active in different sectors and markets. Industries to be represented will include IT/digital technologies, healthcare, transport, telecommunications, medtech, sports and fitness companies.
Once the products and services are defined, and the commercialization partners are identified, the PULSE project will launch a commercial roadshow across the ECHAlliance (European Connected Health Alliance) international network of Ecosystems involving 25+ regions and countries.
During the PULSE Project, we will benefit from the advice and guidance of our industry-led Innovation Council.
We will communicate the results of PULSE activities at the global scale via networks and organizations e.g.
We will share insights via specific events organized by the PULSE Project including