When I started the Learning Specialist role there was a lot to learn, pun intended. But seriously, as I stepped into the role there was a whole data community that I had to get to know. All In – Data for Community Health is a “learning network of communities that are testing exciting new ways to systematically improve community health outcomes through multi-sector partnerships working to share data. All In partner networks are building the evidence base to advance practice, identify gaps, highlight investment needs, and inform policy” (www.allindata.org).
As I generally work solo, it has been important to stay connected with what other communities around the U.S. are doing in terms of data sharing and collaboration. There is also a surplus of resources at my fingertips that I can access to continue to develop skills and understanding around data and health.
One resource that has been especially interesting is a webinar that showcases two examples of open data platforms for community health; one in Pennsylvania and one in New Mexico. In Pennsylvania, community partners have created the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center, which acts as a platform to support research, analysis, decision-making and community engagement. They currently have 336 data sets available for public view that you can filter by organizations, topic, group or type of data file.
In New Mexico, the New Mexico Community Data Collaborative has taken a similar approach to making data accessible to the public but adding the element of putting these data on an interactive map. For example, say you want to know the rate of homelessness in a rural county of New Mexico, you can set your filters and see these data overlaid on a map. This is especially useful when trying to understand health of a small area that might fall through the cracks when looking at census or state data.
To browse these two examples, please click on the following links:
New Mexico: http://www.nmcdcmaps.org
Now, what does this mean for our Gorge community? To me, it shows that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel to do work in the data sharing arena and can learn from those who are already doing the work. There are endless opportunities to explore for our community but I think the logical place to start is getting buy in from clinical and community based organizations to say, “yes, we understand the value of sharing data and we are all in.”