Dashboard visualizes health of urban populations (ShutterStock image)

Dashboard visualizes health of urban populations

City managers and mayors trying to improve the well being of their residents and address health-related urban challenges may soon have a new tool that lets them visualize 26 types of health-related data, most of which have been unavailable at the city level until now.

Being piloted in four cities, the City Health Dashboard draws data from federal, state and nonprofit organizations -- including the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’ Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the Environmental Protection Agency’s air quality data and state-based education data. It uses 26 measures related to health across five areas, according to the announcement: health outcomes, health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment.

The data ranges from traditional health metrics like premature mortality, teen birth rate and adult obesity to measures that impact health, such as unemployment, the number of primary care physicians and food environment. All measures are presented at the city level and, where possible, by neighborhood and by demographic group. National averages are also displayed so cities can compare stats.

The City Health Dashboard is being piloted in Flint, Mich.; Kansas City, Kan.; Providence, R.I.; and Waco, Texas. These cities applied and were selected by the National Resource Network, a program funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help cities tackle local challenges. The dashboard has already allowed them to target priority areas for improvements.

In Waco, City Manager Dale Fisseler is using the data to assess the role of the healthcare sector and its potential impact on the city. “Already I can see that policy alternatives are illuminated by the dashboard,” he said, "including relationships between spending by hospitals and by our city and county governments and inequities we need to tackle, which we long suspected but just didn’t have any data on before."

The City Health Dashboard was created by New York University’s School of Medicine’s Department of Population Health, NYU’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service and the National Resource Network, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.


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