San Mateo County Health Launches New Data Portal to Promote Community Health Collaboration
Data can inform funding & policy choices
San Mateo County Health has launched a new data portal to provide comprehensive and detailed information to increase collaboration and participation in the health of our community.
The site, which is freely accessible at SMCalltogetherbetter.org, allows users to explore data from a range of health indicators, demographic breakdowns, and geographic locations. Profiles from 33 cities and towns, along with census-designated places in San Mateo County are available. The information can also be narrowed by zip code and census tract.
The data reflect 46 different health and socio-economic indicators in 38 categories, from broad disease incidence like cancer and diabetes to specific markers such as the age-adjusted emergency room rate due to hypertension. Health data is mapped against social determinants such as education levels, household income, food insecurity, access to health services, and many other factors.
Currently, not all data are available for all indicators in San Mateo County, but the site will expand as more data are added by San Mateo County Health’s epidemiology unit. The number of health and socio-economic indicators will also increase over time.
“We are very excited about this new resource,” said Cassius Lockett, PhD, director of Public Health, Policy, and Planning for San Mateo County Health. “This publicly available site promotes data transparency in government and allows for stronger community collaboration around health. Health care professionals in the public and private sectors, community organizations, researchers, elected officials, journalists, county residents—everyone—has access to highly detailed information about health in San Mateo County. It’s one-stop shopping.”
Lockett noted that having so much data readily accessible in a single place allows health professionals to identify populations in need and can inform funding and policy choices.
Since the site draws on data from San Mateo County Health, the California Department of Public Health, the US Census, and other state and national information sources, local data are benchmarked for comparison.
For example, according to the site, the bicycle-involved collision rate (resulting in bicyclist injury or death) in San Mateo County was 30.9 incidents per 100,000 population in 2015. That number compares with a rate of 32.7 across California. A chart on the site shows that San Mateo County’s bicycle-involved collision rate is trending downward, from a high of 36.4 in 2013 to 32.8 in 2014.
City planners, transit officials, and public health authorities can use such data for expanding the number of bike lanes and making existing ones safer, especially near schools.
“The most effective public health responses are informed by data,” said Lockett. “With good data, we can target resources more readily. We can also identify the parts of our community that are shouldering inequitable health burdens or who lack access to certain types of services or economic opportunities—and that lack of access might be having a negative effect on health.”
In addition to the database, SMCalltogetherbetter.org provides links to resources such as foundations that provide grants for public health initiatives, programs that offer documented approaches to improving community health, and tools for conducting a community health needs assessment.
The site is powered by Conduent, a New Jersey-based technology company that builds digital platforms for business and government.
As a county health department, San Mateo County Health administers public health programs and provides clinical and supportive services that help everyone in San Mateo County lead longer and better lives. San Mateo County Health is also a safety-net provider with a long history of innovation in health care delivery, supporting those in need with comprehensive prevention and treatment programs and services.