Data You Can Use

FROM PEOPLE YOU CAN TRUST

Using Local Health Data in a Pandemic 

Using Local Health Data in a Pandemic 

The public has seldom been exposed to as much data as we have since the COVID-19 pandemic hit American shores.

But data has its limitations—and not all data is equal!

Where it comes from? How it is used? What’s missing? These questions matter.

To help sort out the deluge of graphs, charts and diagrams that are spreading with the pandemic, Data You Can Use sought guidance from local experts at a virtual meeting of the Health data Users Group.

The report was based on prevalence at the local level using the RWJ 500 Cities data and conditions identified by the CDC as putting people at higher risk for adverse outcomes. The goal was to increase awareness and help neighborhood groups target resources.  What began as a short report for one neighborhood grew quickly to respond to suggestions and requests from others neighborhood organizations. With quick turnaround, the team at DYCU produced reports for an additional twelve neighborhoods and posted them on the website.

These reports are serving to “democratize the data” as neighborhood groups share them in their newsletters, translate them into the language of their residents, discuss them in online meetings, post them on their websites, and distribute them through their listservs. Edith Chavez, Community Organizer at Muskego Way Forward, for example, translated her report into Spanish, distributed it in her newsletter, and convened a  conversation about it at a virtual neighborhood meeting.

Because health is hyper-local, Data You Can Use released an interactive map showing prevalence by census tract and continues to refine this tool with the Health data Users Group. The tool can be used to help residents, funders, and planners best target resources, and increase awareness of the need for precautions.

Unfortunately, these underlying health disparities existed well before the COVID crisis and, without attention, will remain long after it passes. This data can be used to target resources appropriately, to raise awareness, and to focus on longer-term, more equitable recovery.

Despite the cautions and limitations, like our partners in the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership we continue to believe that local data matters and that better data leads to better decisions, and better communities.

For more information, please contact:

Kathleen Pritchard, PhD, President
Data You Can Use, Inc.
katie@datayoucanuse.org
414-331-7616

Fellowship Experience at Data You Can Use

Building a Bridge between Criminology and Public Health

I’ve always been a curious person.
Constantly asking the 5 W’s of Who? What? When? Where? and Why?

Critical thinking and innovation are special ingredients that contribute to my appetite for learning and growth both personally and professionally. Having lived in a small village, different size cities, and two different countries contributes to my interest in learning about neighborhood composition; the architecture, the people, the culture, the art and also the challenges, poverty, segregation and systemic barriers.

Early on in my career I spent most of my time submerging myself in Psychology. This field was a perfect match that allowed me to constantly think of the Why? It wasn’t until I had been working as a research assistant for a study on disruptive behaviors of children exposed to trauma in Chicago neighborhoods that I really started paying attention to the impacts of violence. Soon after, I would find myself submerged in Criminal Justice journals and the relationship between violence and trauma. This was the first bridge between Psychology and Criminology. During my graduate program, I worked with a very talented researcher who was also passionate about studying violence and impacts on neighborhoods. This introduced me to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a way to study the spatial distribution of violence in Colombia. I spent the next few years working as a crime analyst for a police department where I continued to focus on the relationship between crime and geography. Turns out we are all curious people trying to answer the 5 W’s. The issue is that we tend to work independently within our own career disciplines, when so much overlaps.

I first heard of Public Health while working on a homicide and non-fatal shooting project at the police department. I was asked to partner with an analyst from an office of the health department who was also looking at the same data. I quickly learned that we both had very similar questions about the data and had a very similar objective…to understand the What? Where? and Why? Even though I had been focusing on understanding the spatial distribution of where these offenses were taking place, I had not really thought about root causes. Vice versa, my colleague understood root causes and public health concerns, but was not clear on how to interpret the crime data. We both understood that the ultimate goal was for more prosperous, healthy and safe communities, which is at the core of both public health and public safety.

That same year I met Dr. Katie Pritchard while working on a federal grant for a local neighborhood. The focus was on using data-driven strategies to address a public safety concern at the neighborhood level. Katie and her team introduced me to new concepts and ways of looking at data. Things like a logic model, asset mapping and community-participatory research were so interesting and kept me wanting to learn more. The idea of working together across sectors for one common goal and building partnerships to promote solutions while being guided by data and research seemed out of this world.

The Wisconsin Population Health Service Fellowship is a program of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, housed in the School of Medicine and Public Health. This is a post-master’s program that focuses on training the next generation of public health leaders while providing valuable public health service that addresses the needs of public health agencies and their communities throughout Wisconsin. Service learning is at the core of the Fellowship. Each Fellow is placed with an agency for two years where they will complete the requirements of the program through a combination of service and training (for more information visit pophealth.wisc.edu).

For me, my placement site was clear from the beginning. I wanted to work with Data You Can Use. Katie and her team serve many roles including leaders, evaluators, data intermediaries, educators and community partners. Building on the foundation of community relations and engagement was very important. By working across sectors, I’ve been able to meet so many great organizations and community leaders.

One of my goals was to spend more time learning about Social Determinants of Health and Health Equity. Through my placement at Data You Can Use, and with the continuous support of my Fellow community, I was able to really think critically about systems and policies from both a macro and micro level. After all, Criminal Justice was just one of many broken systems that contribute to the inequities and disparities faced by many of our communities. This is especially true for communities of color who have suffered generations of poverty, systemic racism and who are overpoliced, over-researched, and whose voices are often missing at the table.

Once a month for the last two years, I attended learning community meetings which are day-long meetings that focus on a particular public health issue. These were particularly interesting because public health covers such a broad spectrum of issues that are related to our overall health and wellbeing. For example, from the County Health Rankings Model we know that community safety influences the health outcomes of a person/community. Unsafe neighborhoods can cause anxiety, depression, chronic stress and other health conditions. Other topics covered included mental health, mass incarceration, immigration, housing, food insecurity, and much more. The lesson here is to look at root causes to really understand the underlying factors that influence health and safety and move in a direction where we think about upstream solutions around systems while working together across sectors.

I could not end my reflection without mentioning the importance of using data to advance equity and using the context of structural, environmental and social conditions to tell a more complete story. The mantra used by Data You Can Use of “no data without stories and no stories without data” leaves a strong message. Too often, data, research and statistics have been used to create negative narratives causing further harm and perpetuate stereotypes. As we move into an era influenced by “data-driven” practices, artificial intelligences, etc., we must take a stand to ensure that data is used ethically and not as a weapon.

The bridge between Criminology and Public Health has changed the trajectory of my career in a very positive way. This experience has strengthened my leadership, sharpened my critical thinking, and allowed me to be innovative. Furthermore, continuing to ask the 5W’s has blended all of my previous fields of study together to create not only bridges, but highways as well.

I am grateful to my preceptor, Katie Pritchard and her team at Data You Can Use for all their guidance and dedication and to my Fellowship mentors, colleagues and leaders who have helped make this experience possible.

A Data Dream Webinar: Using Data Science to Empower the Future of Lindsay Heights

A Data Dream Webinar
Using Data Science to Empower the Future of Lindsay Heights

Wednesday, April 22
5:00pm – 6:00pm CT

Hosted on Facebook LIVE
https://www.facebook.com/events/161969711713042/

 

NNIP Spotlight: Turning the Corner featured in “Best of 2019”

The National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership published an article about Turning the Corner project. Click here to read more.

 

 

NNIP Spotlight: Milwaukee’s Amani Neighborhood Uses Data to Target Traffic Safety and Build Trust

The National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership published an article about Milwaukee’s Amani Neighborhood.  To learn more about how the people in Amani are using data to identify safety issues and build relationships with the police, click here.

you can also copy the following link to your browser:

https://www.neighborhoodindicators.org/library/stories/milwaukee%E2%80%99s-amani-neighborhood-uses-data-target-traffic-safety-and-build

 

 

Sarah Laurent’s field experience at DYCU

This summer, as part of a field experience collaboration between the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health, and Data You Can Use, I was able to complete my field experience requirement for the Master of Public Health program in biostatistics. Throughout my field experience at Data You Can Use, I was provided a plethora of opportunities to showcase and refine my data analysis, visualization, and presentation skills. When looking at different site locations for my field experience, I came across the Data You Can Use website. I was initially drawn to the liquor license map that was uploaded to the site in 2018. I like the interactive aspects of the map and thought that it would be useful for me to learn how to use mapping software. In addition, I was interested in exploring the relationship between binge drinking and liquor licenses due my public health background.

With the help of my preceptor, Kathleen Pritchard, I was able to develop a final project that incorporated my objectives for the field experience, as well as develop a useful tool for Data You Can Use. I created a descriptive map of liquor license locations and binge drinking prevalence rates throughout the City of Milwaukee. In addition, I created a report summarizing my findings from the map and presented my observations and recommendations to local stakeholders. To create my map, I utilized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 500 Cities 2016 dataset of binge drinking prevalence rates throughout the City of Milwaukee. I then added data on liquor license locations from the City of Milwaukee Open Data Portal to the map and set an automatic refresh interval so that the liquor license data would remain up-to-date. From there, I color coded the map according to binge drinking prevalence and liquor license expiration dates.

Before starting at Data You Can Use, I had very limited experience working with mapping software, and I was worried I would not be able to complete the tasks outlined at the beginning of the summer. I am extremely thankful for the support and guidance provided by the Data You Can Use team, and I am very satisfied with the final product. I hope that community partners find my map useful when examining the relationship between binge drinking prevalence rates and liquor licenses within their own communities. In addition, I hope that my map provides data and information for stakeholders looking to take action against problematic liquor license establishments. I feel that my field experience was an extremely valuable opportunity, and I hope that the liquor license map created in collaboration with Data You Can Use will provide useful information for community partners in the future.

Data & the Arts – An Unlikely Pairing? Not Really. Reflections of My Internship Merging Research with Visual Storytelling

Some would think that a Bachelor’s in Digital Arts, would not be an ideal candidate for a data agency internship. Since I happen to possess such a degree, I had doubts about my application, considering I hadn’t opened Excel before 2017.  As a graduate student in Urban Planning, I was just touching the surface when it came to U.S. Census data. Yet, when I sat down with Data You Can Use’s (DYCU) president Katie Pritchard for my interview, I immediately understood DYCU’s mission of connecting local organizations to data, helping them interpret the information, and translating it to best serve their needs. To me this sounded exactly like my work in marketing and design.  Presenting information in a clearer, more appealing way and helping the clients to reach their audience. Fortunately, Katie agreed that analysis and visualization, or “telling the story,” is needed in the data field. And so, I was brought on for an internship with DYCU. Initially, I supported projects with my skills in photography and design, but was also given opportunities to analyze data directly, which is useful for my intended career in planning. Challenges in this position were expected, but welcome. I was barely familiar with Excel coming in, but I was eager to learn more. I knew that would mean taking educated risks, and making mistakes repeatedly until I got it. However, that is how I learned design software – learning by doing, growing through exploration. This approach, building on small successes, has helped creative types like myself, develop great skills while minimizing frustration. My first project proved an excellent place for this technique. I had the opportunity to discover and identify themes in a survey that explored residents’ opinion on comfort in different neighborhoods. This was part of DYCU’s partnership with the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership and the Turning the Corner initiative. At first, I attempted to use a method I learned in class: pivot tables! I realized that it was over complicated for what was needed. My right-side brain came into play, and I realized that I was overcompensating for what I was missing: tools. Creative tools I had, quantitative ones I lacked. I worked with Carrie, and together we looked for relevant data using simple conditional formatting. Excel became more relatable using basic tools and I was able to find some of the hidden story in the data which I initially missed by focusing on overly complicated method of analysis. A simple truth from the arts also rings true in data fields: the simplest tools work best. The next step was working with Katie, having discussions about what data would be useful and interesting, given our partner’s goals and perspectives. Outside of these challenges of interpreting data, there was great joy seeing where I could lead and offer visualizations to bolster projects. DYCU had been working with the Zilber Family Foundation’s neighborhood initiative to make data portraits for Clarke Square, Lindsay Heights and Layton Boulevard West.  In a discussion with the staff of agencies who work in these neighborhoods, someone had the innovative idea to photograph key community destinations that would give context to the statistical data. Over the course of a few days I hopped on my bike and rode to explore each of the Zilber neighborhoods. Each neighborhood had unique opportunities for photos that held beauty and surprises. Some had murals that captured a neighborhood’s distinct culture and energy, others had points of interests ranging from the historic to the eclectic. Within each neighborhood, I found buildings nestled together that depicted the signs of change making its way through Milwaukee. Frequently, I found striking compositions in mom and pop shops situated next to national brand/big box stores. The images were interesting, but the story it could tell when paired with DYCU’s data is what really excited me. This photo project was deemed a success, and I had a second opportunity to look for images of gentrification in neighborhoods being researched by the Turning the Corner project. Katie provided guidance with questions based on qualitative data- what do residents, business owners and people who shop and play in neighborhoods think that gentrification looks like? The photo narratives I captured for the Turning the Corner neighborhoods documented signs of change, both positive and negative and stemmed from the ideas collected from residents and people who walk the streets in these neighborhoods. I intend for these images to honor how these communities have grown and simultaneously show what gentrification can erase: cultural history and sense of community. DYCU has not only been immensely generous over the course of my internship with their praise and use of my photographs in presentations and reports, their access by community organizations, but they have encouraged me to include more data inspired storytelling with my imagery. Photography can readily begin a conversation, but when paired with pointed and purposeful data it can become a catalyst for real long-term change. Thanks to the visual work I have done here on the Turning the Corner initiative, I presesnted a photo narrative on housing as a sign of neighborhood change for the Midwest Interdisciplinary Graduate School conference in February 2018. In summary, I find myself incredibly grateful for the experience afforded by DYCU and will continue to use everything I’ve learned in future projects!

New Data for Better Neighborhood Health

This Spring, Data You Can Use sponsored a session at the Zilber School of Public Health highlighting three new sources of data that can help promote healthy neighborhoods. Participants included representatives from health clinics, hospitals, community development corporations, neighborhood organizations, the City Health Department, faculty and students from UWM and the Medical College of Wisconsin and United Way.  The slides from the session are available on our reports and presentations page.

The session introduced participants to each other, to new data sources, and the potential of using these resources to improve neighborhood health. It began with a quick quiz on the connection between health and wealth. Most participants were aware that:

  • people with lower income report poorer health (both physical and mental);
  • people with lower incomes have a higher risk of disease, and
  • people with lower incomes have a significantly shorter life expectancies.

Many attendees were surprised to learn that according to the research, promoting economic growth doesn’t always correspond to improved health. However, investments in improved health and nutrition are associated with improved productivity and economic development.The three datasets we presented can be used to further explore this connection. They include:

  1. CityHealth, from the deBeaumont Foundation which looks at policies that affect health;
  2. 500 Cities Project from the Center for Disease Control and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation which provides health data at the census tract level; and
  3. the Milwaukee Community Data Base, a local portal for a range of data from a variety of sources.

CityHealth rates the 40 largest US cities on nine evidence-based policies that affect health.  It offers information on nine policies, by city and by policy. For example, evidence shows that health outcomes can be affected by paid sick leave laws, high-quality, universal pre-kindergarten, affordable housing/inclusionary zoning policies, alcohol sales control, Tobacco 21 policies, healthy food procurement policies and complete streets policies. Each city gets a rating and some earn a bronze, medal or gold depending on the policy. Milwaukee received medals in three of the nine categories, suggesting there is much to be done.

The group was interested in the “data deep dive.” For each policy, the site provides the full codebook, the data and, of most interest, the evidence. This is a great resource for assuring funders, board members, public officials, and most importantly, the residents in your neighborhood, that there is some evidence that the policy will make a difference.

500 Cities Data for Local Health

For dataphyles, this is an exciting new data set made available through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the CDC. For people who care about health and neighborhood conditions, this is a tool to better understand and address health disparities.

Although there is a growing understanding of the impact of place on , there has only been limited data available at the county and city levels. And we know that county and even city level data masks the disparities that are so important to address.

Now, for the first time ever, we can access the 500 Cities database and see the differences at the census tract level! There are 27 variables, reflecting unhealthy behaviors, health outcomes, and preventative measures. In Wisconsin, the data are available for Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha, Racine, Appleton and Waukesha. Using reliable small area estimations, we can compare Milwaukee to the state and national numbers, and for neighborhood enthusiasts, we can now compare neighborhoods within Milwaukee.

In a hyper-segregated city like Milwaukee, we are accustomed to seeing highly clustered data. The 500 Cities data reveal some interesting differences that should be affecting the way we target our resources.  The MapBook for Milwaukee is available on our website and has each of the indicators mapped across the census tracts. For those who want to examine comparative areas, the actual data can be accessed and used interactively.

The Milwaukee Community Data Base is a portal to readily available data. The group explored how this could be used to identify housing built before 1951 and therefore more likely to have lead-based paint and/ or plumbing. Combining this with other available information could help identify local health needs and mobilize solutions. For a neighborhood group, the ability to match street addresses with both young children, and the threat of high blood lead levels, provides the ability to target education and water filter distribution.

What Participants Said

The “quickie critique” suggested that the session was well received.

  • I liked the variety of data sources covered.
  • I liked the introduction to new data sets that I will certainly be able to use in my work.
  • I really appreciate you all taking the time to share these tools.
  • I liked learning about and getting to play with the datasets, A very helpful resource—thank you!
  • There is a great cross section of health/neighborhood representation here!
  • I like that it was in the computer lab so I could look through the sites while learning about them.

Besides a suggestion to add wine to the session (it was a Friday afternoon after all), one recommendation that came from several attendees was to provide more examples of how the data could be used.

What’s Next?

At Data Day 2017 MKE last week, we posted the 500 Cities map for Milwaukee throughout the day and participants took a data walk, noting some patterns unlike our usual heatmaps. This group agreed: there is much to explore.

So… to get things started, we’ll be convening a group of interested stakeholders to form a “users group” to explore the use of health data at the neighborhood level.  If you’d like to join us, please contact katie@datayoucanuse.org before July 6th 2017 and we’ll find a time to get started!

What makes your neighborhood great?

Who and what are the people, places and things really make your neighborhood a great place to live, work and play?

This question is at the heart of neighborhood asset mapping, and was the focus of a workshop for neighborhood leaders presented by Data You Can Use this past fall. We held the event at the Washington Park Library Community Room, which is a great space for communal events. We appreciate our public libraries as an important asset for us and for people we work with, and Milwaukee Public Library is a great resource for books, information and a lot more!

Observations from the workshop from the attendees

  • “I learned [a lot] about other neighborhoods & communities [in Milwaukee].”
  • “[I] realize how many assets I have in my neighborhood.”
  • “[This] broadened my view of an asset.”

I lead a session along with  Carrie Koss Vallejo and Katie Pritchard. We decided to introduce the concept of Neighborhood Asset Mapping through a series of exercises:

  • Begin by describing your own personal assets—strengths, resources, skills. Share some examples with the group.
  • Consider the benefits of discussing things in terms of assets rather than problems or deficits.
  • Discuss the concept of a “neighborhood asset”  from the Asset Based Community Development Institute.
  • Ask individuals to  list the assets that are in their neighborhood.
  • Break into groups to share assets and discuss findings. For a sample of assets identified see here.
  • Reconvene the full group to discuss how asset mapping can help identify gaps in a neighborhood and opportunities for connecting.

As I was learning about asset mapping from them, it was great to rely on the attendees’ expertise while planning for the event, and to have them on hand during the day!

What is neighborhood asset mapping and who is it for?

Neighborhood asset maps, or “Asset Based Community Development” is a term coined by the ABCD Institute out of Northwestern University. While a more detailed description can be found ts on their website, the basic rationale is this:

Without the capacity for change, neighborhood change may not happen. Focusing first on what assets a neighborhood has, and where the opportunities and gaps are can reduce the effort to make things happen, which increases a neighborhood’s capacity for change.

That statement sounds good, but what does that mean for a resident on a block?

Making change happen in a neighborhood takes effort, time and resources. One of the most important parts of any change process is to understand your existing resources so that you can build from what you have. This is really at the heart of the work of Data You Can Use and is what Neighborhood Asset Mapping is all about.

In short, asset mapping is a way to collaboratively identify and visually describe assets and to use them as the basis of  building stronger, sustainable communities.

So who is neighborhood asset mapping for and who should use it? It is a tool for all stakeholders in a neighborhood or community. That includes residents, property owners, community organizations, community organizers and government. The collaborative process of asset mapping relies on the knowledge and insights of the residents and stakeholders who live and work in the community. The focus on identifying existing resources rather than deficits is more action oriented and can allow neighborhood residents to begin to link resources together and begin to address issues that have a more powerful  effect.

What can you do with neighborhood asset maps?

It is common for neighborhoods that are struggling with a particular issue to work inside their neighborhood and seek outside funding and assistance to help make change happen. One of the challenges of working with multiple outside partners is this: what is valuable to a resident in a neighborhood is not always what appears valuable to outside eyes. While not always the case, DYCU believes strongly on a “resident-first” approach. When mapping assets, it is important to start with the voices of people who live and work in a neighborhood, then to bring in outside resources to help satisfy that identified want. This practice helps ensure that the needs of the community are clearly represented in community development work.

Data You Can Use has created asset maps, and some of those are available on our web site. Stay tuned for updates!

As much need or want as a neighborhood might have, identifying existing resources within the community is an important first step.  We are excited about partnering with others to use asset mapping in neighborhood development and in further exploring ways to assure that the voice of people who live and work in a neighborhood is integral to the work.

Want to learn more about Neighborhood Asset Mapping for your neighborhood? You can learn more about the ABCD Institute here and by contacting us.

Beautiful day in the neighborhoods

 

Photo credit: Milwaukee Christian Center

We are pleased to share three new neighborhood level data portraits. In addition to the many interesting facts within the reports, the background and development process of these reports is worth sharing.

In September, data portraits were released for  the City of Milwaukee’s Neighborhood Strategic Planning Areas.  Now the template has been adopted by a second set of neighborhood data users representing Amani, Metcalfe Park and, which are Milwaukee’s Building Neighborhood Capacity Program (BNCP) areas.  These reports highlight data chosen by community leaders, assembled by a data team, and now adopted by a second group of community organizers.  

It can be a real challenge to try to show  change in a neighborhood when the data can only be found at the city level.  With data assistance, however, these organizations can use datasets like the American Community Survey (ACS)  to inform their planning, and complement their  observations and neighborhood knowledge.  

To strengthen the partnership between those who need data and those who use data in Milwaukee, the Nonprofit Center convened a group of Neighborhood Strategic Planning Area (NSP) community organizers and worked with Data You Can Use staff, to develop a template of neighborhood data.  These community organizers provided critical input by:

  • Defining neighborhood boundaries, and
  • Prioritizing data for inclusion

The template began with standard data points recommended by the data team, including population by race and poverty status.  With input from the community organizers the template grew to include other data such as cost of rents and mortgages and the year housing units were built.  

The adoption of the report by a second group of community organizers is a sign that the reports were created thoughtfully and that the data are useful.  We at Data You Can Use will continue to collect feedback on what’s helpful to community builders and advocate for the use of data.  But it’s important to take a moment to celebrate this shared effort, and thank the community organizers and residents who have contributed their time and shared their priorities.

So, thank you to: Danell Cross, Sister Patricia Rogers, Pepper Ray and Juanita Valcercal for their insights and questions when creating these new neighborhood data portraits.

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