Validation of a GIS Facilities Database: Quantification and Implications of Error

Janne E. Boone, Penny Gordon-Larsen, James D. Stewart, Barry M. Popkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Purpose: To validate a commercial database of community-level physical activity facilities that can be used in future research examining associations between access to physical activity facilities and individual-level physical activity and obesity. Methods: Physical activity facility characteristics and locations obtained from a commercial database were compared to a field census conducted in 80 census block groups within two U.S. communities. Agreement statistics, agreement of administratively defined neighborhoods, and distance between locations were used to quantify count, attribute, and positional error. Results: There was moderate agreement (concordance: nonurban: 0.39; urban: 0.46) of presence of any physical activity facility and poor to moderate agreement (κ range: 0.14 to 0.76) of physical activity facility type. The mean Euclidean distance between commercial database versus field census locations was 757 and 35 m in the nonurban and urban communities, respectively. However, 94% and 100% of nonurban and urban physical activity facilities, respectively, fell into the same 5-digit ZIP code, dropping to 92% and 98% in the same block group and 71% along the same street. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the commercial database of physical activity facilities may contain appreciable error, but patterns of error suggest that built environment-health associations are likely biased downward.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-377
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Epidemiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Environment Design
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Validation Studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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