Defining Socially-Based Spatial Boundaries in the Region of Peel, Ontario, Canada
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BACKGROUND: The purpose of the project was to delineate a series of contiguous neighbourhood-based "Data Zones" within the Region of Peel (Ontario) for the purpose of health data analysis and dissemination. Zones were to be built on Census Tracts (N = 205) and obey a series of requirements defined by the Region of Peel. This paper explores a method that combines statistical analysis with ground-truthing, consultation, and the use of a decision tree. DATA: Census Tract data for Peel were derived from the 2006 Canadian Census Master file. METHODS: Following correlation analysis to reduce the data set, Principal Component Analysis was applied to the data set to reduce the complexity and derive an index. The Getis-Ord Gi*statistic was then applied to look for statistically significant clusters of like Census Tracts. A detailed decision tree for the amalgamation of remaining zones and ground-truthing with Peel staff verified the resulting zones. RESULTS: A total of 15 Data Zones that are similar with respect to socioeconomic and sociodemographic attributes and that met criteria defined by Peel were derived for the region. CONCLUSION: The approach used in this analysis, which was bolstered by a series of checks and balances throughout the process, gives statistical validity to the defined zones and resulted in a robust series of Data Zones for use by Peel Public Health. We conclude by offering insight into alternative uses of the methodology, and limitations.
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