Applications for PALMS

Database Solutions
PALMS (Personal Activity Location Measurement System) is web-based system that supports data collection and analysis for exposure biology studies from multiple participants within studies and will allow for aggregating and comparing data between and among multiple researchers across studies. PALMS has been designed as a system to support researchers and has an infrastructure to promote the sharing of data. PALMS can integrate data capture from multiple sensors and provide multiple options for analysis and the recombination of data.

PALMS is an extensible and flexible system that has been designed to be scalable for large data flows and to support a large number of investigators and studies. Datasets, calculations, and visualization options are customizable and secure.

GIS, GPS and Social Science Research
Recent years have seen a rapid growth in interest in the addition of a spatial perspective to social and health research, and in part this growth has been driven by the ready availability of and/or means to collect geo-referenced data, and the tools to analyze and visualize them: geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), spatial analysis, and spatial statistics. These developments in materials and methods for geospatial data analysis facilitate the integration of multiple data sets collected at different scales or units of analysis (spatial and temporal) and have resulted in a need for conceptual development on some of the theoretical issues.

Better measurement of where a person conducts PA as a function of time is critical. Research that combines the use of GPS tracking with GIS technologies might contribute to greater understanding about spatial "levels" of analysis and their impact on health. GPS data will be able to provide rich space-time data on individual routes and key nodes of PA within a city. These data can be draped over many other types of data layers within a GIS but these data layers can vary widely in their temporal coverage.

Ecological Momentary Assessment of Physical Activity
Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) has emerged in response to the problems inherent in retrospectively collecting data on such things as mood, pain, and sense of well being. As these may vary in intensity, duration and frequency from day to day, hour to hour, or minute to minute based upon ecological context, the validity and reliability of after the fact assessments are highly suspect. On the other hand, frequent instantaneous reports of these phenomena have been shown to minimize recall bias and more faithfully represent the true natural history of transitory states. Different recording approaches are used for EMA including end-of-day, interval-contingent (e.g. every 2 hours), event-contingent (e.g. after a period of vigorous intensity PA), or signal-contingent (e.g. to measure a hypothesized relationships between PA and post-PA mood one might sample every 10 minutes before and episode of PA and then every 30 minutes thereafter). Cell phones hold considerable promise as a means of supporting this approach.

EMA also assists in more accurately assessing activity modes and purposes, as well as perceptions of environment such as safety.