Thursday, June 28, 2012

Data Focus: The American Community Survey

A map generated from HealthLandscape's ACS QuickMaps tool showing percent of persons under 18 below poverty in the Greater Cincinnati region.

HealthLandscape's ACS QuickMaps tool was developed specifically to help you take advantage of the rich data available within the American Community Survey (ACS), the Census Bureau's newest product. Listed below are some FAQs about the survey, and how HealthLandscape makes this data available to you.

Is the American Community Survey the same as the ten-year census?

No. In fact, the ACS replaced the long form of the census in 2010. In simplest terms, the census is conducted every ten years, and is designed primarily to get a "head count," a count of the number of people in the United States and their general characteristics. The ACS is conducted every year and generates 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year data.

What kind of data does the American Community Survey collect?

The ACS collects demographic, social, economic, and housing data such as age, disability, poverty, education levels, race and ethnicity, and employment. (For a full list of topics, click here.)

What is the difference between 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year data?

Refer to the Census Bureau's chart for a detailed explanation. In general:
  • One-year data is 12 months of collected data, and describes areas with populations of 65,000 or more. It is the most current data, but it is also based on the smallest sample size, so it is less reliable than 3-year or 5-year data. One-year data is not available for small geographies.
  • Three-year data is 36 months of collected data, and describes areas with populations of 20,000 or more. It is less current than 1-year data, but more current than 5-year data. Three-year data is available for small geographies.
  • Five-year data is 60 months of collected data, and describes areas with populations of all sizes. It is the least current, but is based on the largest sample size and is therefore the most reliable. Five-year data is available down to the census tract level.
The data is updated every year. So, for example, in December 2011, 2006-2010 5-year estimates were released. At the end of 2012, 2007-2011 5-year estimates will be released.

HealthLandscape uses 5-year ACS data in our QuickMaps tool, and 5-year, 3-year, and 1-year data in our Community HealthView tool.

Where can I get more information about the ACS data sets included in HealthLandscape?

We publish metadata (data about the data) for each data set.

If you're using QuickMaps, look at the bottom center of the screen. You'll find general information about the data set, and a link to the Census Bureau for more information.

If you're using the Community HealthView tool, enter "American Community Survey" in the search box to locate ACS data. Then click the "about" link next to the data set. You'll see detailed metadata, including an abstract, type of data (1-year, 3-year, or 5-year), whether it's state, county, or tract-level data, what fields are included in the data set, and other useful information.

All ACS data is downloadable from the Census Bureau's web site. Our goal at HealthLandscape is to do some of that hard work for you, to make public data sets available in a way that's immediately useful to you and your organization. We want to help you show the need, tell your story, and explore alternatives.

Sign up for an Intro to HealthLandscape webinar to see ACS QuickMaps and Community HealthView in action. If you have specific questions about HealthLandscape or the American Community Survey, contact us at, or call 513-458-6674.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Facts Matter Data Portal Wins Award at Datapalooza Health App Expo

CINCINNATI — Less than a week after its launch by United Way of Greater Cincinnati and community partners, Facts Matter received national recognition by health care technology experts during their annual expo.

Facts Matter provides the public with data about population demographics, the status of children and youth, education, health, economics and social relations in the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region. The portal expands the community’s access to data and informs regional efforts to work together to improve our community. Facts Matter is built on the Community Indicators Data Portal, developed by HealthLandscape, and is the first of these portals to be launched nationwide.

The Community Indicators Data Portal was recognized in the “For Community” category during the 2012 Health Initiatives Forum, better known as “Health Datapalooza,” June 5-6 in Washington, D.C. The event brought together data experts, technology developers and health care system leaders to recognize innovative applications that raise awareness of health and health care systems, and spark community action to improve health.

“We’re very honored to have received this award,” said Mark Carrozza, health informatics developer at HealthLandscape. “At first, we were just excited to be one of the 17 teams chosen to present the data portal on stage out of more than 200 applicants. This award confirms that the Community Indicators Data Portal will be the go-to place for regional data."

The Facts Matter data portal project is supported by the staff of the Community Research Collaborative (CRC), a partnership between United Way of Greater Cincinnati and the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati. The CRC provides support to policymakers, community leaders, and service providers to identify the health, social, and economic issues facing the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region.

“Facts Matter is going to be a great resource for our entire community as we work to achieve our region's Bold Goals in the areas of education, income, and health,” said Terry Grundy, community impact director at United Way. “The information the portal provides will help us leverage our efforts as we work together for collective impact.”

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

HealthLandscape Community Data Portals Take Second Place at Health Datapalooza App Expo!

Register for a Facts Matter Training Session

Want to learn more about Facts Matter, Greater Cincinnati's online gateway to income, education, and health data?

Attend a live webinar (all webinars are one hour):
Or watch either of the videos below:

Facts Matter Overview

Using QuickGeocodes with Facts Matter

You can also download a QuickStart guide from the Facts Matter data portal Resources tab.

We want to make it as easy as possible for you to access and use this tool. If you have any questions, contact us at or call 513.458.6674.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Facts Matter, Cincinnati's Comprehensive Data Portal, Is Launched

Mark Carrozza, health informatics developer at HealthLandscape, demonstrates the Facts Matter comprehensive data portal at its June 1 launch. Facts Matter is deployed on the HealthLandscape mapping platform.

On Friday, June 1, the Greater Cincinnati nonprofit community gathered at the United Way of Greater Cincinnati's Fifth Third Convening Center for the launch of Facts Matter, the region's new online gateway to information about income, education, and health.

Facts Matter will be the go-to place for Greater Cincinnati regional data. Prior to its launch, community leaders had to gather income, education, health, and other data from a variety of sources. And much of that data was not region-specific. Facts Matter aims to change that.

Facts Matter:
  • Contains local indicators, indicators that the Greater Cincinnati community has agreed are important
  • Collects the data into one location and provides quick access to it
  • Uses data at a collective level, which increases the opportunity to make collective impact and offers a means for collective measurement
  • Makes data more tangible through a variety of visualizations
  • Fosters partnerships
  • Stays up-to-date, as opposed to state of the community reports which are snapshots in time, published every few years
Why do facts matter? Nonprofits have accountability issues. They must demonstrate to their funders, boards, program participants, and the community-at-large that their programs are necessary, effective, and worthy of continued support. And there is greater emphasis these days on data-driven decision making. "Access to strategic data guides decisions, helps in planning, and helps leaders evaluate success," said Stephanie Byrd, executive director of the United Way of Greater Cincinnati's Success By 6 initiative, who presented ways that Facts Matter can help agencies in program planning and accountability.

Jim Votruba, chair of the United Way of Greater Cincinnati's Research Council and soon-to-be-retired president of Northern Kentucky University, reinforced the importance of this tool. "To make progress, we need to confront the facts about ourselves and then act on them. This is a remarkable new civic resource. It will make our partnership work for community transformation just that much easier."

Facts Matter is a collaborative effort. Funding partners include the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, and The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation. Data partners include Agenda 360, HealthLandscape, Northern Kentucky University, Strive Partnership, University of Cincinnati, and Vision 2015.

The portal currently contains 81 indicators. "All the data that we want in the portal is not in the portal," said Eric Rademacher, Co-Director of the University of Cincinnati Institute for Policy Research and Director of the Community Research Collaborative. "We will be inviting people to become data partners."

Visit Facts Matter at Training opportunities are available through webinars and video tutorials. We will post links in a separate blog, for easy reference.