The Arthritis Foundation's Heartland Region office serves Americans with arthritis throughout the upper midwest. Arthritis affects tens of millions of Americans each year - the second most common chronic condition after heart disease. When your organization's constituent base is that large, it's important to make sure that you're offering services to as many people as possible and to make those services as accessible as possible. In this article, we'll examine how the Arthritis Foundation is using mapping technologies to meet those requirements!
The US Department of Health and Human Services recently announced a new open data initiative, the Community Health Data Initiative, intended to provide tools and data sets for community-level health analysis. As the first part of this initiative, HHS and related government and non-government entities will be collecting and linking to existing data and resources, some of which we've already examined (such as the CountyHealthRankings.org mapplication). The USDA contributes its county-level food and nutrition atlas, useful for visualizing statistics about food deserts, food access, and food insecurity issues, as well as physical activity statistics.
The World Bank offers a large data repository of economic indicators, statistics, and other useful tools for mapmakers working in international development. Users can search for data by country or by topic (Aid Effectiveness, Health, Poverty, etc.). In addition to viewing or downloading data, the site presents a nifty visualization tool displaying data on a world map.
A new website called County Health Rankings analyzes public health statistics for each county in the US, creating state-by-state reports of the healthiest counties. The website, a joint project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, analyzes healh factors (statistics about disease incidence, tobacco use, etc.) and health outcomes (such as life expectancy) to create county-by-county rankings of each state. These rankings are then mapped for each state, using Flash-based Fusion Maps software (not free/open source) so that users can drill down to access county-level data.
"The Opportunity Agenda, with support from the Health Policy Institute at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, commissioned a series of papers examining the effectiveness of web based mapping, and the role it can play in promoting health equity."