Planning Tool

How much does smoking affect life expectancy in your community? Assess how smoking, alcohol, diet and physical activity affect life expectancy across Canada

PBL Planning Tool: About the Science

Did you know? Many algorithms at Project Big Life began as tools to assess the health of populations, such as a province, city, or clinic practice. People use Project Big Life algorithms for assessing their health. The algorithms are also used by health planners to assess the health of populations.

How it works

The Project Big Life Planning Tool is the most popular and easiest way for health planners to use our algorithms for population analytics. Planners use their data file that contains the health profile of a group of individuals. When available, we've also added public-use Canadian data to get you started. Each row in the data file represents a person, each column reflects the algorithm’s variables (such as age, sex and other demographic information). The planning tool calculates the predictive score for each row in a data file, appending the risk calculation as a new column. The planning tool provides summary measures of the risk calculation, or planners can use the new appended data file for more analyses.

An example: five-year mortality risk

The Mortality Population Risk Tool (MPoRT) predicts an individuals' five-year risk of death based on their sociodemographic characteristics, health behaviours and chronic diseases. The algorithm was developed by linking respondents from the 2001 to 2008 Canadian Community Health Survey to vital statistics (~1 million person-years of follow-up). Over 1 million respondents to the Canadian Community Health Survey since 2001 provide a representative sample of over 100 health regions across Canada.

Get started! It takes just a few minutes

Regional planners can use the Canadian Community Health Survey and Project Big Life Planning Tool to calculate the mortality risk for their health region. They can also estimate life expectancy and the contribution of smoking and other health behaviours. To get you started, the tool includes samples of the 2013 Canadian Community Health Survey—you can select a data sample; select what mortality measures you want; and then click 'calculate.' The planning tool returns summary measures of mortality risk along with a log of any calculation errors. You can download the summary measure file, and the sample data with mortality risk appended. Careful, some of the data files are large, and calculations can take time. Start with the 1% sample of the 2013 Canadian Community Health Survey (n=1275). Calculations using the 1% sample should take a few minutes on a typical laptop computer.


Project Big Life uses the same calculator engine throughout the website. The application is an "offline" browser-based application. "Offline" means the calculator engine is downloaded onto your local browser window, and all calculations are performed on your computer. Data files and calculations are not remotely calculated. We've used an offline approach to allow use of the planning tool within secure data centres. This approach doubles to provide private calculations for all users at, whether making individual calculations or using the planning tool.