Hong Kong FAMILY cohort Urban Morphometric Platform (HKFUMP)

Research Centre: Healthy High Density Cities Lab;

Project title: Hong Kong FAMILY cohort Urban Morphometric Platform (HKFUMP).

HKUrbanLabs research cluster: Healthy CitiesHD

Project Team: Chris Webster (Co-PI), Gabriel Leung (Co-PI), Chinmoy Sarkar (Co-I).

Project Funder: URC 35th Round of PDF/RAP Scheme (HMRF bid for the same proposed by Dr Sarkar had been earlier unsuccessful).


Objective assessment of the built environment (OABE) has evolved into a rapidly developing domain in recent years, enabling automation of detailed and precise measurements of the fundamental determinants of activity behaviour and obesity, physical and mental health in large epidemiological cohorts. The study aims to employ OABE methodology involving a series of spatial and network analyses techniques over multiple spatial databases and remotely sensed data. It will result in the  construction of a series of high resolution objective health- influencing measures of built environment configuration and physical accessibility, modelled from topological models of road, pedestrian and public transport networks; land use mix and housing densities, density/intensity and proximity of health-specific infrastructure; urban green; and terrain. These morphometrics of detailed urban design, density and configuration will be developed at multiple spatial scales and linked to geocoded individual-level household locations of participants of the Hong Kong FAMILY Cohort, the prominent epidemiological cohort of Hong Kong. This will enable the modelling of associations between a suite of urban morphometrics and prevalence of obesity, social capital, mental health and other chronic disease.

Anticipated outcomes: A series of 4-5 papers in high impact journals.


“improved urban health outcomes will need a concerted effort to create and maintain the so-called urban advantage through reshaping city environments. Furthermore, such urban planning needs to take account of the inequalities between cities across the world and within individual cities when devising policy. Urban planning efforts should be based on a complexity approach that recognises multidirectional causality, feedback loops, and unintended consequences. Such an approach is more capable of producing effective action than are more conventional linear approaches. An integral part of such a complexity approach is an emphasis on project-based experimentation and social learning through discursive and inclusive assessment”.

The Lancet Commissions, 2012


Enlarge Photo: Study of the Inverse spatial relationship between slope and urban green in Hong Kong and potential impacts on behaviour and health. a) 30m resolution NDVI index of urban greenness derived from Landsat ETM+ b) 30m resolution urban slope model derived from Aster Global Digital Elevation map.
Developed by Dr C. Sarkar. © Chinmoy Sarkar & Chris Webster
Enlarge Photo: Figure. Potential models to be tested: Model 1: Proposed study the multi-level links from urban density and form to obesity (BMI, % body fat). Model 2: Proposed study the multi-level links from urban green to obesity (BMI, % body fat).
Developed by Dr C. Sarkar. © Chinmoy Sarkar & Chris Webster