As health and well being become more important factors in housing, new tools provide visibility to the factors that need to be addressed during planning and design. This newest online tool, City Health Dashboard, looks at a robust number of factors that affect health, in more than 500 cities nationwide.

When you think about the most pressing problems in urban America, the word multifaceted comes to mind. To break the cycle of intergenerational poverty, we need to be looking at education. To improve education, we need to look at zero-tolerance policing. And so on.

That’s especially true when it comes to health. The contributing factors are complex. Finding novel interventions to intractable problems like obesity and opioid overdoses, for example, require looking at data from a variety of areas both within and outside of healthcare fields. But these numbers exist in disparate data sets, often compiled by different organizations, with different methods — so they tend not to be so easy to manipulate.

Enter a new tool for policymakers, researchers, and civic leaders to explore these connections in one place, the City Health Dashboard. Launched by the Department of Population Health at NYU School of Medicine last week, the database presents an easy-to-navigate alternative to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Fact Finder that brings together city-level and neighborhood-level numbers related to not only health but also its upstream and downstream factors — such as employment, housing and chronic absenteeism from school.

“It’s not a site that’s only about health or healthcare. It takes a broader view of what is health all about — what really produces health in our society?” says Dr. Marc Gourevitch, chair of the Department of Population Health at NYU and the lead researcher on the project. “We’re bringing together data not just about health but about what drives health, in one place, so that coherent conversations can be had in setting priorities and thinking about what we can do to improve population health and health equity.”

The interface was designed to make connections across the raw information hidden in its data, which includes a wide array of datasets pulled from the Centers for Disease Control, the Census Bureau, and other sources, covering the 500 largest American cities.

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