DESCRIPTION OF THE STRATEGY
Communities can generate greater awareness and improve targeting of resources by analyzing and publicizing data to highlight geographic patterns and other information about lead poisoning and asthma.
Because citywide averages, although useful in many respects, tend to camouflage disparities in risk of lead poisoning or asthma, small area analysis is a critical component of this strategy. In small area analysis, communities “drill down” beyond the municipal level and analyze data for smaller geographical areas. The most telling analysis would examine data by census block or neighborhood, but parsing data by ZIP code is also illuminating. Unlike a citywide average, these levels of analysis can identify concentrations, or “pockets,” of lead poisoning and asthma, allowing regulators, property owners, and community-based organizations to focus attention and resources.
Detailed data analysis will be most effective when the data are presented using clear and compelling visual aids, such as color-coded maps. Several organizations have found that a great way to leverage data to improve policies is to show prevalence rates by political jurisdiction (e.g. by city council district). Mapping data in this way focuses the attention of city council members whose districts are home to concentrated pockets of lead poisoning and asthma. Residents of high prevalence areas can use the information to mobilize their neighbors to secure policy improvements.
This strategy produces useful, detailed information in a format that allows the public and decision makers to recognize geographic disparities in lead poisoning prevalence and risk and know where to target the most aggressive risk reduction efforts.
Identifying areas with the highest risk can prompt more immediate action to prevent lead poisoning by targeting code enforcement and lead hazard control efforts where most needed within a jurisdiction.
Graphical representations of disparity data can spark discussion and increase resolve to address other issues related to those disparities: urban blight, poverty, substandard housing, and more. It can also encourage better policies that assist both targeted areas and the municipality as a whole.
Scope of Potential Impact
City - or - County - Wide
|Community-based Organizations||Health Department|
Human Services Agency
Projects using this strategy are generally short-term but time-intensive. In some organizations and agencies, existing staff can perform the data analysis and presentation; others may need temporary help from experts in data analysis and/or mapping.
Other resource requirements:
Access to lead screening data that includes addresses and zip codes will be required. Mapping and graphics software and knowledge of political jurisdiction boundaries (council districts, legislative districts within or including a particular municipality, etc.) are also essential.
Command of data analysis and mapping software is essential to successful implementation of this strategy.
Moderate costs will be incurred if outside consultants are needed. Costs for software, handouts, flyers, and other publications can be expected.
For maximum impact, results should be made public to policy makers as they are weighing key decisions, such as annual budget allocations or new policy proposals.
High. Past successes have shown that this strategy is replicable in other jurisdictions. Free or minimal cost options could be explored to make this strategy even more replicable. Local programs could request support from state agency partners, and states could ask for support from CDC or other federal agencies. Alternatively, agencies may be able to tap into government-wide information technology resources, borrow staff from other agencies with expertise in mapping software and small area analysis, or utilize functions of existing programs.
Perhaps the most significant potential obstacle is a lack of knowledge or skill, particularly when it comes to specialized mapping skills and GIS software. However, partnering with other organizations with such knowledge or contracting out for such skills can overcome this obstacle.
Other barriers could include a lack of responsiveness from policy makers or the absence of sufficient lead poisoning data by zip code or census block. Care must be exercised to protect the confidentiality of medical information.