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Article

Big Data and Urban Health  

Mark Stevenson, Jason Thompson, and Thanh Ho

Understanding the varied effects of urban environments on our health have arisen through centuries of observation and analysis. Various units of observation, when compiled spatially or linearly, have provided considerable understanding of the causal pathways between environmental exposures in cities and associated mortality and morbidity. With growing urban agglomerations and a digital age providing timely and standardized data, unique insights are being provided that further enhance the understanding of urban health. No longer is there a potential lack of urban data; over the 2010–2020 decade alone, the resolution and standardization of satellite and street imagery, for example, alongside methods of artificial intelligence such as self-supervision methods, have meant that technology and its capacity have surpassed the accuracy and resolution of many administrative data collections typically used for urban health research. From Bills of Mortality in 1665 to 20th century surveillance systems to the innovation and global reach in the period of “big data,” data has been the mainstay of decision support systems over the centuries. This new world of big data characterized by volume, velocity, variety, veracity, variability, volatility, and value is paramount to answering the significant urban health challenges of the 21st century.

Article

Occupational Health Challenges for Immigrant Workers  

Emily Q. Ahonen

Occupational health and safety concerns classically encompass conditions and hazards in workplaces which, with sufficient exposure, can lead to injury, distress, illness, or death. The ways in which work is organized and the arrangements under which people are employed have also been linked to worker health. Migrants are people who cross borders away from their usual place of residence, and about one in seven people worldwide is a migrant. Terms like “immigrant” and “emigrant” refer to the direction of that movement relative to the stance of the speaker. Any person who might be classified as a migrant and who works or seeks to work is an immigrant worker and may face challenges to safety, health, and well-being related to the work he or she does. The economic, legal, and social circumstances of migrant workers can place them into employment and working conditions that endanger their safety, health, or well-being. While action in support of migrant worker health must be based on systematic understanding of these individuals’ needs, full understanding the possible dangers to migrant worker health is limited by conceptual and practical challenges to public health surveillance and research about migrant workers. Furthermore, intervention in support of migrant worker health must balance tensions between high-risk and population-based approaches and need to address the broader, structural circumstances that pattern the health-related experiences of migrant workers. Considering the relationships between work and health that include but go beyond workplace hazards and occupational injury, and engaging with the ways in which structural influences act on health through work, are complex endeavors. Without more critically engaging with these issues, however, there is a risk of undermining the effectiveness of efforts to improve the lot of migrant workers by “othering” the workers or by failing to focus on what is causing the occupational safety and health concern in the first place—the characteristics of the work people do. Action in support of migrant workers should therefore aim to ameliorate structural factors that place migrants into disadvantageous conditions while working to improve conditions for all workers.