Resident Needs

Milwaukee, WI
United States

Used residents' reactions to neighborhood-level data on underlying health conditions associated with COVID-19 to inform response and recovery.

Sharing data with residents democratizes and vets data and increases data literacy. Through this grant opportunity, Data You Can Use, a community data organization in Milwaukee, engaged residents and neighborhood organizations in a review of neighborhood-level data on underlying conditions associated with COVID-19. The primary purpose of the project was to gather residents’ recommendations for short- and long-term responses to health inequities.

To gather information, Data You Can Use partnered with neighborhood organizations to facilitate “data chats” with groups of approximately 10 residents at a time, reaching 112 residents from 11 neighborhoods with different ethnic and racial concentrations. Ahead of these sessions, Data You Can Use prepared “data digests” on underlying health conditions to review with residents, using an interactive map to show how prevalent these conditions are by neighborhood. Residents reacted and compared the data to their own experiences before recommending ways to respond.

Residents have used the data to demonstrate the daily challenges they are facing during the pandemic, from food insecurity and transportation issues to housing instability and barriers to education. Data You Can Use shared the data with neighborhood organizations, city departments, elected officials, local funders, and academic partners in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health. An early outcome one neighborhood group achieved was successfully advocating for increased COVID-19 testing capacity in their neighborhood.

 Data You Can Use used this opportunity to implement data chats as a technique for engaging stakeholders during a pandemic, while adjusting to social-distancing requirements and barriers caused by the digital divide. The data chat format was well received by residents, with several of the neighborhood groups asking for scripts to use to host more data chats with their churches, block clubs, and at other community events. Data You Can Use also presented findings from the data chats to Milwaukee’s Health Data Users Group, and a local Milwaukee funder has asked Data You Can Use to produce three more data digests and host data chats, further expanding resident involvement in using data on underlying health conditions associated with COVID-19 to identify strategies for response and recovery.