New Orleans, LA
Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI) used 500 Cities data to explore which areas of Kenner and New Orleans would benefit most from improvements to biking and pedestrian infrastructure. In their analysis of 500 Cities health outcomes, LPHI found that the census tracts with higher prevalence of poor health outcomes also tended to be the tracts with lower household incomes, less access to vehicles, and higher housing burdens (i.e., spending 30 percent of monthly income or more on housing). Therefore, LPHI advocates that better connecting these neighborhoods (e.g., via protected bike lanes) to areas in the region that are better resourced or closer to job centers could offer residents more than just health benefits. The institute shared its findings and policy recommendations with local stakeholders who are empowered to act on these data and advocate for local policy change.
Louisiana Public Health Institute has used the 500 Cities data to engage with local coalitions and city officials on data-driven approaches that integrate a health equity lens into transportation policy. It first used the 500 Cities data to construct a preliminary overview of health and economic metrics of local regions of interest: Jefferson Parish, Kenner, and Terrytown. By presenting this data at local convenings, LPHI was able to begin creating a broader narrative of health and transportation access at the local level.
Louisiana Public Health Institute presented on 500 Cities health outcomes like physical health, mental health, physical inactivity, and obesity (among other indicators) to highlight the health disparities in their community. By using this data in a presentation on local health indicators with coalitions like the Jefferson Parish Complete Streets Coalition, LPHI is making significant progress advocating for the use of local data to inform transportation policies.
In addition to sharing 500 Cities data findings with local partners, LPHI has supported Bike Easy by helping install—and crafting a narrative in support of—a pop-up bike lane demonstration on Loyola Drive in Kenner to generate excitement about additional transportation options in the community.
Louisiana Public Health Institute also used 500 Cities health outcomes to create an initial mapped analysis of 500 Cities health conditions that would benefit from expanding low-stress bike lanes in New Orleans to prioritize neighborhoods on which to focus policy advocacy efforts. After the initial round of meetings with local stakeholders, LPHI completed additional analyses to complete an assessment brief as well as specific assessments for Jefferson Parish and Orleans Parish by incorporating additional metrics into their mapped analysis based on stakeholder feedback. They used the results to inform specific recommendations for policies or initiatives to help integrate a health equity lens into transportation policy.
To share their findings with a broader audience, LPHI also created easily digestible advocacy materials like one-pagers featuring some of the 500 Cities mapped data with key action steps or recommendations for Kenner, New Orleans, and Terrytown. Louisiana Public Health Institute also hosted educational events using a community conversations guide for 500 Cities–informed community discussions to inform transportation/Complete Streets planning.
WHAT THEY LEARNED
As the Louisiana Public Health Institute conducted their analysis using the 500 Cities data, they identified several key lessons learned:
- Be prepared to come armed with additional information or resources that support whatever social determinant of health issue(s) you are addressing to articulate how those issues potentially connect with the health measures in 500 Cities. Correlation versus causation is a tricky concept that some folks struggle with, especially when desiring a quick win or crafting a pithy headline.
- When articulating a policy solution or intervention, understand that other fields have their own metrics and tools. To get these stakeholders interested in 500 Cities data, you will need to be able to articulate how 500 Cities data provide a more complete picture to advance their objectives and goals.
- Be sure to foreground the short-term impacts of your recommended intervention/policy solution to offer stakeholders something tangible to celebrate, as the impacts of an intervention will likely not be reflected in the 500 Cities data for a very long time.
Given these lessons, LPHI will continue to use 500 Cities data in future assessments and policy analyses. The Regional Planning Commission is currently overseeing the New Links process, a yearlong project to study and propose a network redesign of public transportation in Jefferson, Orleans, and St. Bernard Parishes. Louisiana Public Health Institute is a member of the New Links Community Advisory Committee and, as such, will be providing the planning commission any relevant health data, including data from 500 Cities as appropriate.
Finally, the LPHI team will also continue to provide the 500 Cities data as a local resource. It currently provides presentations and tutorials to nonprofits, local governments, and others on how to use data (e.g., for resource allocation) and will continue to flag the 500 Cities data as a key resource to stakeholders in their region.
WHAT THEY RECOMMEND FOR SIMILAR PROJECTS
Louisiana Public Health Institute has identified the following recommendations for organizations interested in pursuing similar approaches to using the 500 Cities data in their communities:
- Use other data sources with 500 Cities data. Not having the exact same data at the zip code level for adjacent, highly populated unincorporated areas makes it challenging to talk about a region using only 500 Cities data. Other sources of comparable data must be incorporated, and this can make a project much larger than anticipated.
- When developing use cases, be open to unexpected opportunities for sharing 500 Cities data as the political dialogue around a solution or policy grows and shifts. Although certain changes can sometimes wreak havoc on your timeline and list of tasks, it is important to take advantage of the ebb and flow that seems to occur in public policy advocacy.
To learn more about Louisiana Public Health Institute’s work, follow @LPHIorg on Twitter and visit LPHI on Facebook. If you are interested in learning more about this team’s project approach or have specific questions regarding replicating their work in your community, please feel free to contact the Principal Investigator of this project, Sandra Serna.