Framework for Collecting and Updating Time Activity Patterns (TAPs)
Scope of Work: White Paper and Study Framework Contract
Time activity patterns (TAPs) are of great importance to study human exposure to indoor and outdoor pollutants. Traditional approaches of collecting TAP data usually involve surveys and field campaigns, which are costly, time-consuming, and ineffective. There is an urgent need to improve the methodology for studying TAPs. Therefore, the main objective of this study is to 1) review existing research on TAPs and 2) develop a next-generation framework for collecting and updating TAP data using modern technologies. This next-generation framework will take advantage of new technologies, including low-cost sensors, smart phones, wearable devices, and big data, to broaden geographic coverage and better reflect regional and community specific factors. Ultimately, the framework will serve as a guideline for profiling Californians’ TAPs to reduce their exposure to indoor and outdoor pollutants.
Time activity patterns (TAPs) are widely used by environmental researchers and health professionals to estimate human exposure to and health effects associated with air pollutants. For instance, numerous studies are based on the fact that people spend over 90% of their everyday time indoors, which is an important TAP. However, this TAP has been used by researchers for decades without any updates to reflect changes in human behaviors. For example, people spend time in different types of indoor environments and yet TAP data does not capture these differences. Recent COVID-19 restrictions have greatly impacted people’s TAPs, yet no data is available to provide shelter-in-place TAPs for different groups of people, such as essential workers and telecommuting workers. More generally, TAP data used by researchers have not been updated for decades and are out of date considering how the population of California has diversified and how Californians’ activities have changed over time. Furthermore, the existing TAP data do not cover the diverse population of California in an equitable manner so a comparison to current TAP data should be performed using factors such as Social Economic Status (SES) as well as a broad range of other categories. The reason why such data are unavailable is largely due to the reliance on surveys and field campaigns to collect and update TAP data. In contrast to these traditional tools, smart devices (phones and wearables) can easily collect people’s TAPs, where they have provided consent to participate in TAP studies. Low-cost sensors can monitor the levels of a wide range of pollutants, such as particulate matter (PM), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and carbon monoxide (CO), in different microenvironments, such as restaurants, bedrooms, and offices, where people spend the most time. Given the data collected by smart devices and low-cost sensors, researchers can use big data and data science tools, such as neural networks and clustering, to find the most important factors that impact exposures. This data-collection-analysis cycle using modern technologies will significantly increase the cost-efficiency of obtaining and updating TAP data. More importantly, this approach can still be used when surveys and field campaigns are no longer applicable. Therefore, there is a need to evolve into the age of smart devices and big data to collect and update TAPs. This evolution will enable researchers to achieve more accurate exposure estimations in future health and exposure studies.
Scope of Work
This contract includes three tasks.
Task 1 Provide a summary of available information and data gaps on time activity profiles in California. This can include:
- The studies on techniques and activity breakdowns
- The studies that use the TAP information and how it was used. A comparison to studies where the TAP information is not used to investigate the bias or misclassification of the cohort exposure in these studies
- Which, if any, policies and/or regulations have used TAP information and how it was used
- The studies on identification of major microenvironments for TAPs
Task 2 Provide a summary of new data systems and analytical approaches that are being used or may be used for estimating time activity patterns (e.g. Google, cell phone data, wearable devices, big data, neural networks, machine learning)
Task 3 Develop a framework for bringing TAP studies into the modern age by:
- An assessment of resource and data needs to develop a next-generation framework for TAPs
- Analysis of advantages, limitations, challenges to adopting this new framework.
- Conceptualizing potential applications to assist with improving public health and reducing pollution exposures.
Deliverables will include quarterly invoices submitted with progress reports and regular quarterly update meetings to demonstrate the progress made by the primary investigator (PI). A research seminar will be held upon completion of the project for the PI to cover the findings in the final report. The final report consisting of the White Paper will be completed within the timeframe of the contract.
The objective of the white paper is to develop a framework for a complete and comprehensive study to update and modernize TAP information so it can be used in a more flexible manner. The framework consists of a study design with the goal to create a granular database or model which can be used to refine exposure estimates for the many locations, economic statuses, and activities available to the people in California. The study design will propose approaches to gather a more representative sample for the updated information on how Californians spend their time. For this updated study framework, the recommendation is to use a broad spectrum of data collection avenues including traditional surveys, cellphone data, and a combination of big data and other modern techniques being used in other fields or other parts of the world. Use of these techniques combined with a cohort of targeted personal exposure data collection are recommended for the base effort of the study design to help refine the geographic and economic activity pattern distinction. This multi-disciplinary effort should be deployed to gather a broad spectrum of data which can be used to answer the many inequity questions surrounding exposure and create a user-friendly granular database which can be used to refine exposure estimates. The paper will also include a discussion of innovative uses of this information for exposure estimates as well as how this information can be applied to and improve existing exposure models. This study design development will be the basis for a follow-on study to update and modernize the TAP data available to researchers and interested parties.
In summary the list of deliverables include:
- Quarterly Progress Reports and conference calls
- Consultation calls with CARB and key stakeholders;
- Draft final report;
- Final Report and an in person or virtual seminar presentation (pending health requirements);
- All data, analyses and analytical tools generated through the course of this project;
- In addition to the above deliverables, the project must incorporate equity components including but not limited to the following:
o Equity implications section in the final policy brief and report;
o Encourage non-academic partners, such as non-profits or community advocates; and/or encourage academic partners new to CARB contracting and/or from smaller universities;
o Work with CARB to create plain-language outreach deliverables for public (available in multiple languages and formats);
Additional deliverables to be determined in consultation with CARB staff.
The completion of the white paper will be done within the timeframe (12 months) of the contract. Regular quarterly update meetings will be held to assess the progress. The cost ($25,000) specified on the contract agreement is for the completion of the work described above by the PI.
In order to increase transparency of how winning pre-proposals are chosen, scoring criteria have been included for each project. Please note that scoring criteria is tailored to each project included in CARB's fiscal year 2021-2022 solicitation. If you are submitting pre-proposals for more than one project in the solicitation, please be sure to review the scoring criteria to get a better understanding of what components of the project are most valued for selection.
- RESPONSIVENESS TO THE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES OUTLINED IN THE PROPOSAL SOLICITATION (15 points) Proposers should demonstrate a clear understanding of the policy objectives and research needs that CARB seeks to address with this project, and should convey their knowledge of the subject. The proposal should spell out, in adequate detail, exactly what the Proposer proposes to do to satisfy the requirements of the Solicitation. The draft proposal must propose work that would satisfy the objective(s) stated in the Research Solicitation to develop a white paper on how to utilize information from new data and analytical tools to develop a next-generation framework for constructing a modernized California based time-activity database.
- POLICY RELEVANCE/BENEFITS TO THE STATE(10 points) – Does the proposal describe how the project will provide data, information, and/or products to help CARB accomplish its mission? In particular, how does the proposal support CARB’s mission to protect and promote public health from through a better understanding of what time activity patterns impact personal air pollutant exposures.
- PREVIOUS WORK (10 points) – Do the researchers have relevant experience in this area? Do they discuss how they will build upon previous relevant work that was funded by CARB, other state agencies, and federal agencies such as US EPA, NSF, or NIH?
- EXPANDING EXPERTISE (10 points) – Does the team bring in new talent that has not worked with CARB previously? Is the team composed of a multidisciplinary team of experts? Researchers new to CARB are encouraged to apply and partner with multidisciplinary teams.
- TECHNICAL MERIT (25 points) - Describe the submission's technical strengths and/or weaknesses. Proposers should demonstrate the logic and feasibility of the methodology and technical approach to the project, spell out the sequence and relationships of major tasks, and explain methods for performing the actual work. Please factor in how well the draft proposal describes the investigator’s approach for obtaining and assessing ideas for using new data systems, and analytical approaches, especially those associated with modern networks, devices, and big data compilations, in order to develop improved methodology for assessing time activity patterns in Californians. Does the project produce time-activity information that is applicable to a range of communities including vulnerable communities?
- The review team will be selecting only one draft proposal for development into a full proposal. If this draft proposal has potential, what areas or topics should be prioritized or better explained in the full proposal?
- LEVEL AND QUALITY OF EFFORT TO BE PROVIDED(15 points) – Does the proposal allocate time and resources in such a way that the objectives of the study will be met? Is supervision and oversight adequate for ensuring that the project will remain on schedule? Is the distribution of workload appropriate for activities such as research, evaluation and analysis, data reduction, computer simulation, report preparation, meetings, and travel?
- COST EFFECTIVENESS (15 points) - Does the cost seem appropriate for the proposed work? Does the proposed work seem feasible within the requested budget? Projects that provide co-funding should be evaluated more favorably.