A cutting edge approach to assessing physical activities occurring on sidewalks/streets (Preprint)
JMIR Research Protocols
A considerable proportion of outdoor physical activity (PA) is done on sidewalks and streets, necessitating the development of a reliable measure of PA performed in these settings. The Block Walk Method (BWM) is one of the more common approaches for this purpose. Although it utilizes reliable observation techniques and displays criterion validity, it remains relatively unchanged since its introduction in 2006. It is a nontechnical, labor-intensive, first generation method. Advancing the BWM
... d contribute significantly to our understanding of PA behavior. This study will develop and test a new BWM that utilizes a wearable video device (WVD) and computer video analysis to assess PAs performed on sidewalks and streets. The specific aims are to improve the BWM by incorporating a WVD (eyeglasses with a high-definition video camera in the frame) into the methodology and advance this WVD-enhanced BWM by applying machine learning and recognition software to automatically extract information on PAs occurring on the sidewalks and streets from the videos. Trained observers (1 wearing and 1 not wearing the WVD) will walk together at a set pace along predetermined 1000 ft sidewalk and street observation routes representing low, medium, and high walkable areas. During the walks, the non-WVD observer will use the traditional BWM to record the numbers of individuals standing, sitting, walking, biking, and running in observation fields along the routes. The WVD observer will continuously video the observation fields. Later, 2 investigators will view the videos to determine the number of individuals performing PAs in the observation fields. The video data will then be analyzed automatically using multiple deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) to determine the number of humans in the observation fields and the type of PAs performed. Bland Altman methods and intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) will be used to assess agreement. Potential sources of error such as occlusions (eg, trees) will be assessed using moderator analyses. Outcomes from this study are pending; however, preliminary studies supporting the research protocol indicate that the BWM is reliable for determining the PA mode (Cramer V=.89; P<.001), the address where the PA occurred (Cohen kappa=.85; P<.001), and the number engaged in an observed PA (ICC=.85; P<.001). The number of individuals seen walking along routes was correlated with several environmental characteristics such as sidewalk quality (r=.39; P=.02) and neighborhood aesthetics (r=.49; P<.001). Furthermore, we have used CNNs to detect cars, bikes, and pedestrians as well as individuals using park facilities. We expect the new approach will enhance measurement accuracy while reducing the burden of data collection. In the future, the capabilities of the WVD-CNN system will be expanded to allow for the determination of other characteristics captured in videos such as caloric expenditure and environmental conditions. PRR1-10.2196/12976.