Mapping the geography of health – How Industrial PhD student Ludovico developed breakthrough interactive tool

CMCRC-SIRCA Industrial Doctorate researcher Ludovico Pinzari is set to graduate with his PhD this month after what he describes as three years of enjoyable challenges.

Ludovico, who is enrolled in the Translational Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University, says the opportunity provided by CMCRC-SIRCA to work with an industry partner has proven to be an enormous benefit.

“Balancing the work, study and research requires a lot of self-discipline – and that is actually a great learning outcome,” says the Health Market Quality student and research data scientist engineer.

“You have to schedule your working activity, research, and study, and of course your deliverables.”

While on placement with industry partner the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Ludovico – under the supervision of Professor Federico Girosi – worked to develop new geo-spatial software, named the Statistical Essay Tool, for use in reporting variations of health-related indicators across different geographic areas.

The interactive tool “is the first and only application of its kind that retrieves population counts and features of a geographic area and allows users to compare and group geographies with similar characteristics”, he explains.

“It allows people to look at the socio-economic variables within a specific geographic area and their implications for health outcomes.”

New models and algorithms

Working with his industry partner, new models and algorithms to cluster geographies with similar socioeconomic characteristics were developed.
“I designed the Homogeneity and Location index to classify probability distributions and provide external criteria for cluster validation.”

Ludovico’s research, entitled A framework for the identification and classification of homogeneous socioeconomic areas in the analysis of health care variation was recently published in the International Journal of Health Geographics.

He also presented his work at the Wennberg International Collaborative Spring Policy Meeting held in Melbourne.

‘… when you work in industry you have to be able to deliver using the available resources.  You work with what you have.’
“It was quite a challenging project because when you work in industry you have to be able to deliver using the available resources.  You work with what you have,” he says.

“Mathematical modelling for me is something that’s a universal language; and you should be able to explain how your research can be applied to different domains, because if it is really narrow it doesn’t bring any value.”

Ludovico, who was born in Perth but moved to Rome as child, has a BA and a Masters degree in computer science and automation engineering from Roma Tre University.

With research interests mathematical modelling, geographic information systems, data clustering, geographic variation and public health, he confesses to “being amazed by the beauty of geometry, algebra and calculus especially when you can apply these to real problems”.

He is now looking for opportunities for the next stage of his career.

“I’m curious and eager to learn new things and to share my knowledge,” he says.