Adding a spatial dimension to food consumption patterns

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About Adding a spatial dimension to food consumption patterns


Reversing poor eating habits is on top of many policy maker's agendas. Especially in cities' most deprived neighbourhoods healthy food is scarce and out of most people's reach. The municipality of Toronto supports a network of food outlets that provide healthier and more affordable eating options compared to regular convenience stores: the Healthier Corner Stores (HCS). Future policies depend on the results of this pilot project. For evaluating the HCS project the Toronto food strategy team collects Point of Sale (PoS) data. Staff members also interviewed local residents about their eating and shopping habits. While both PoS and household survey data have been stored as spreadsheets, evaluation tasks for the purpose of developing novel policies can greatly benefit from the possibility of adding a spatial dimension to these data. One possible approach is integrating the PoS and survey data with geographical information at the semantic level. The LinkedGeoData project [1] maintains an RDF knowledge base for spatial information, expressing roads, buildings, but also convenience stores and other food outlets as RDF triples. In this master assignment a student will investigate strategies for converting the PoS and survey data into an RDF knowledge base that can be linked with geographical data. The student will also evaluate how the newly obtained integrated resource can be deployed for evaluating the HCS project more effectively. Finally, depending on the assignment's results, she will formulate an advice to the local authorities on improving the HCS project as well as on how future data collection campaigns can be set up.

Recommended prior knowledge

The successful applicant to this position has a working knowledge of ontology engineering methods, interest in applying data processing to socially relevant tasks and preferably a interdisciplinary background with some knowledge of policy making and qualitative research methods. She also followed all (or most of) these courses:

  • Knowledge & Media course
  • Social Web course
  • Research methods course
  • Semantic Web

Extra Information

Contact Corrado Boscarino (daily supervisor) for more information about this project.