Regular followers of the Community Health Maps (CHM) blog will know that the National Library of Medicine and its partners Center for Public Service Communications (CPSC) and Bird’s Eye View GIS have worked for several years in support of NLM’s mission to improve health information literacy, with a particular focus working with underserved communities. While access to quality health information is frequently a focus of attention, the ability to visualize data and information — to better understand and portray their significance to the community — has received less attention. This is in part because the availability of affordable GIS platforms and data collection and visualization applications is relatively recent. Historically, the cost to procure platforms and applications, to train users and to sustain operations has been prohibitive for communities and community-based organizations whose health budgets are already strained. This recognition has prompted CPSC, with NLM support, to develop the Community Health Mapping initiative.
Our premise has been that community-based and minority health organizations are in a better position to serve their populations when they are able to collect and maintain their own data, rather than — or at least in addition too — having to rely solely on national/state agencies or majority-institution partners to provide data to them.
The approach we have pursued involves using relatively low cost tablets and smartphone platforms, combined with the selection of low/no-cost applications that run on these platforms, allowing novice users and users with little budget resource to map their communities. Introducing such workflows to community-based and minority public health professionals empowers users to collect, analyze, visualize and share their own spatial data. Importantly, these tools can also be used to share data collected using other programs, such as Esri’s ArcGIS and national- and state- derived databases such as CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, Public Use Data files from National Center for Health Statistics, etc.
As documented on the CHM blog, to date the CHM initiative has supported pilot initiatives with:
- The University of Hawai’i School of Medicine’s Department of Native Hawaiian Health
- The Seattle Indian Health Board and the Urban Indian Health Institute
- The Medical University of South Carolina
- Tuskegee University
- Washington State Department of Health and University of Washington public health graduate students working on Capstone projects featuring our workflow.
We have also created a Community Health Mapping blog that you are exploring now, maintained by Bird’s Eye View, NLM’s and CPSC’s GIS partner in this project. Further, we have recently completed the development of a set of six online “labs”:
- Field Data Collection (iOS & Android),
- Bringing Field Data into QGIS,
- Combining Field Data with other Organizational Data,
- Basic Spatial Analysis,
- Cartography with QGIS
- Data Visualization with CartoDB.
These, too, are available through the CHM blog.
With these experiences, the CHM Team approached the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) for its support of a national workshop so that we could share our approach more broadly than we have to this point. This has been our goal all along, pending testing of our workflow. We believe, and we have demonstrated that this low/no-cost workflow can enable community organizations and community-oriented health professionals to map local health status/conditions that have not been possible before and with quality, sharable results.
On June 7th, 2016, and with funding from RWJF, the CHM workshop will bring together:
- federal/state/local government representatives
- related associations
- members of academia
- community health professionals
- community activists
- information specialists
- information technologists from across the country
to share and discuss new ideas and methodologies for empowering community organizations serving vulnerable or underserved populations with low cost, intuitive mapping technology.
The workshop agenda is below. Stay tuned to this blog for more about the workshop:
Community Health Maps Workshop
Lister Hill Auditorium
National Library of Medicine
June 7-8, 2016
National Library of Medicine
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Center for Public Service Communications
June 7, 2016: Day 1
8:30 – 9:00 Registration
9:00 – 9:30 Welcome and opening remarks
- Betsy Humphreys, Acting Director, National Library of Medicine
- John Scott, President Center for Public Service Communications/Health-Equity.Org
- Michael Painter, Sr. Program Officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
9:30 – 10:15 Importance of Community Access to GIS Mapping and other HIT Applications
B. Vindell Washington, MD, MHCM, FACEP
Principal Deputy National Coordinator
Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology
Department of Health and Human Services
10:15 – 11:15 Community health mapping in a world awash with geographic data and tools
Dr. John P Wilson
Professor and Director
Spatial Sciences Institute
USC Dana and David Dornsife
College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
University of Southern California
11:15 – 11:30 Break
11:30 – 12:15 The landscape of mapping software, applications and databases
Kurt Menke, GISP
Bird’s Eye View
Albuquerque, New Mexico
12:15 – 1:30 Lunch
1:30– 2:00 Introduction to the Community Health Maps (CHM) Initiative
John Scott and Kurt Menke
2:00 – 3:15 CHM User Presentations
- Deborah Williamson, Associate Dean for Practice, Medical Univ. of South Carolina
- Bryan Heckman, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, MUSC
- Derek Toth, Communities in Schools
- Jennifer Rewolinski, Intern, National Library of Medicine
Panel discussion: Community Health Mappers field audience questions
- Recommendations for mapping approaches to attendees work.
- Recommendations for field data collection protocols etc.
3:15 – 3:45 Coffee/Tea Break
3:45 – 4:30 GIS in the Community: applications for environmental health
John Balbus, M.D., M.P.H.
Senior Advisor for Public Health
Director, National Institute for Environmental Health Science-WHO Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health Sciences
National Institutes of Health
4:30 — 6:00 Reception
June 8, 2016: Day 2
8:30 – 10:30 Workshop: Mapping with your smartphone
- Attendees are guiding through the process of building a field data collection form with Fulcrum.
- Each participant spends 30 minutes outside collecting data
- Map data collected online with CartoDB
NOTE: All applications for this training should be loaded by participants to
their smartphones and/or tablets before coming to the workshop. Please refer to instructions sent to you in advance via email
10:30 – 11:00 Break
11:00 – 12:00 Workshop: An Introduction to Mapping with QGIS
- Attendees work with local data to learn the QGIS interface.