In Clifton, New Jersey, data on children in poverty, data on obesity, and data on the percent of uninsured residents revealed such pronounced disparities among neighborhoods that the city approved a satellite health office. Now, residents who previously had difficulty getting health screenings, immunizations and other necessary public services have better access.

In Waco, Texas, a nonprofit organization used the COVID Local Risk Index, a measure of city and neighborhood-level risk of COVID transmission and mortality, to pinpoint the level of COVID risk by neighborhood. Comparing this data to the city’s COVID cases added vital context to community preparation for and response to the pandemic.

Both of these cities used data from the City Health Dashboard. Launched in 2018, the Dashboard addresses the problem of data inaccessibility for cities and communities.

Just as health disparities disadvantage people of color and those of less financial means or educational attainment, so does data inaccessibility. Based largely on a combination of where they live and how easy it is to access and use data, some people can get the data they need to advocate for better, more inclusionary practices and adequate resources necessary for healthy communities. Others can’t—either because they don’t know where to find the data they need, don’t have the expertise to use it, or it doesn’t exist. Low data capacity makes it hard to get information, interpret it, and then use that information to take the steps needed to improve public health.

The City Health Dashboard recently partnered with New Jersey Health Initiatives (NJHI)—a statewide grantmaking program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation—to change that, by providing community organizations, their partners, and the communities they serve accessible data that can make a difference.

Read the full article about data in health systems at Grantmakers In Health.