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Strong action and good decision-making need to be grounded in solid data. Since fall 2017, our project team has been working with researchers and social innovation experts to use a variety of methods to collect data and information and better understand the 5 core neighbourhoods. The research is multi-faceted and includes both qualitative and quantitative data.

Ethnographic Research

We worked with the design groups InWithForward and MaRS Solution Lab to undertake qualitative, on the ground, research by talking to individuals and communities who are experiencing first hand barriers and challenges to wellness. We took a deep dive exploration of the needs, challenges and opportunities for urban wellness for all people in the 5 neighbourhoods.

This primary ethnographic research is rich in detail about people’s everyday lives in these 5 neighbourhoods, the needs they articulate and their future aspirations. It helps us understand where urban wellness is at in these neighbourhoods and where opportunities lie.

Community Ethnography

Interviews held with diverse neighbourhood residents, business owners and a selection of grassroots community organizations have built an emerging snapshot of the assets, challenges and needs experienced by a broader cross section of the community.

Learn about what we found out in this phase of research about the wellness for those with lived experience and their formal and informal support networks:

Summary Trend Report

Edmonton Stories Photo Update

Profiles of People

Day-in-a-life Stories

Front-line Staff Portraits

Profiles of Places

Playback Posters

Community Ethnography Report

A glimpse of conversations with those living rough on the streets of Edmonton.

Video posted with permission from InWithForward

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Mapping

Mapping neighbourhood profiles is a key building block to help visualize this data driven approach. Early in the Recover process, these profiles were created to visually depict place-based information that reflects urban wellness in the 5 core neighbourhoods.

In addition, GIS mapping tools were applied to provide a more dynamic way of looking at the neighbourhoods. This includes location of services, social vulnerability indices, community leagues, business improvement associations and census data. Throughout the innovation and engagement process, this neighbourhood mapping tool will become more robust as additional community input and assets are added.

Strategy and Policy Review Map

Earlier in 2018, Recover stakeholders from the City, province and community helped develop a systems map of municipal and provincial policies and also strategies that influence urban wellness. This tool builds shared understanding of the systems impacting these 5 neighbourhoods, identifies alignments, gaps and reveals leverage points to generate solutions.

We analysed approximately 140 strategies, plans and policies relevant to these core communities and generated a digital map to help define solution spaces in these neighbourhoods.

Indicator Dashboard

We developed an indicator dashboard early in the process with input from the 3 Recover committees. We identified 5 key indicator categories as critical measures of urban wellness: 

  1. Social capacity
  2. Economic vitality
  3. Safety and security 
  4. Physical and mental health
  5. Built and natural environments

The indicator dashboard is a tool to track and measure how well we are achieving our intended outcomes. It's a solid starting point foundation that is constantly refined by public input during the engagement and prototyping processes.

Literature Review

Researchers from the University of Alberta conducted a review of literature from academia, public and community sectors of interventions, services, initiatives and programs.

The review was related to the 5 indicator categories, their impact for inner city communities (very vulnerable populations) and an assessment of political factors. The academic literature primarily came from Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Researchers also reviewed literature from Edmonton-based organizations that are currently working with RECOVER.

For More Information


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