Modeling Community Health in a Simulated City



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Creating a model of Houston will allow others to further their research on public health questions and policies without running into any legal or privacy violations due to laws like HIPAA. The purpose of SAM City is to use data from the U.S. Census and from the Harris County Appraisal District (HCAD) to create that model of Houston. The model will then be used by other research students to help answer various public health questions. These questions can range from determining what areas of Houston would be affected by a water treatment to researching what areas would benefit most from a diabetes intervention program. The model will be simulated by using a program that manages and analyzes large sets of data (obtained from the U.S. Census and HCAD) and uses data visualization with the programming language R. The program needed to be improved because the runtime was excessively slow, and the model was incomplete. After rewriting the program to use more efficient methods with less repetition, the program's runtime was almost halved and the resulting model was more accurate due to less human error, such as typos. Having an updated and accurate model will enable those who use the model to reach better conclusions and have more confidence in their results, which could then help improve public health policies and regulations in Houston.