Connecticut data leader receives award from global Community Indicators Consortium

Posted by admin on Oct 7, 2014

Abraham

Washington, DC summit honors Mark Abraham for exemplifying the use of information to advance community well-being

New Haven, CT (October 6, 2014) – On September 30, the Community Indicators Consortium presented an “Impact Award” at their Washington, DC summit to DataHaven’s Executive Director Mark Abraham. The international organization made the announcement, honoring Abraham with a trophy and opportunity to speak to the assembly. Abraham illustrated how DataHaven and its partners across Connecticut have collected and used public data to advance community change.

“Mark has a unique talent for sifting through volumes of data sources and finding those that are most important to help our community make decisions. Although his work is receiving much-deserved attention from all parts of the country, including major foundations, he is also very strongly committed to the city where he lives,” said Dr. Priscilla Canny, the President of DataHaven’s Board of Directors and former Senior Vice President of The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.

The Community Indicators Consortium honored Abraham for his “cutting-edge approaches to improving community well-being,” including his work with Yale-New Haven Hospital, the City of New Haven, Yale University, and The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven to produce the Community Index 2013, a comprehensive 86-page report that benchmarks the population, economy, health, and civic life of the Greater New Haven metropolitan area.

Abraham also organized the Connecticut Wellbeing Survey, a cell phone and landline survey modeled on recent international work that creates a picture of local communities through so-called “social indicators” – measuring how issues such as food insecurity, feelings of safety and neighborliness, accessibility of infrastructure, household savings, intergenerational mobility, and perceptions of government impact our daily lives. The unique, cross-issue-sector dataset has proven valuable for social science and public health research, allowing policymakers and leaders to understand nationally-significant issues at a neighborhood level.

Under the guidance of DataHaven, both of these programs are currently undergoing a major expansion. This is particularly true of the Connecticut Wellbeing Survey, which will produce information about neighborhoods, cities, and regions across the entire state when it is conducted again in 2015. Abraham says that policymakers and researchers are beginning to pay attention to the program at a national level.

“Having a single statewide survey on well-being and opportunity is critical for the comparability of data across Connecticut’s diverse neighborhoods,” Abraham said, explaining that “the Connecticut Wellbeing Survey creates comprehensive, shared measures that we can use to improve our cities and towns as places to live, and it helps us understand some of our most significant challenges that, while sometimes studied at a national or state-wide level, are rarely captured within such scientifically-rigorous data sources at the local level.”

In May 2014, Abraham was selected as a Fellow of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, one of the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States, as one of 24 established and emerging leaders who focus nationwide on the issue of racial equity. As a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Fellow, Abraham, along with his national colleagues from 15 states, will collaborate for three years with fellows and other leaders based in the foundation’s priority places of Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, and New Mexico who are seeking to change conditions so that vulnerable children can achieve optimal health, academic achievement, and financial security.

Mark Abraham has served as the Executive Director of DataHaven since 2009, transforming it from a data gathering initiative into a research and community development program with several full-time staff. DataHaven now partners with dozens of state, regional, and local government agencies, research universities, philanthropic foundations, major health care institutions, and other nonprofit organizations, to create and share meaningful information about Connecticut’s constantly-changing regions, cities, and neighborhoods. In his role to increase the usability of public data, Abraham also provides free technical assistance in order to enable smaller groups and individuals to access the information they need, often at a neighborhood level. Abraham is a resident of New Haven.

About DataHaven

DataHaven is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization with a 22-year history of public service to Greater New Haven and Connecticut. DataHaven is a partner of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, a collaborative national effort by the Urban Institute and approximately 40 local partners to further the development and use of neighborhood information systems in local policymaking and community building. DataHaven is the “data steward” for the Connecticut Data Collaborative, a public-private organization that promotes access to open data in Connecticut, and its Executive Director, Mark Abraham, serves as a member of the Connecticut Governor’s Open Data Advisory Panel and several other statewide research committees.

Information on the Connecticut Wellbeing Survey and Community Index is posted on the DataHaven website, at www.ctdatahaven.org/wellbeingsurvey.php and www.ctdatahaven.org/communityindex.

About the Community Indicators Consortium

The Community Indicators Consortium is an active, open learning network and global community of practice among persons interested or engaged in the field of indicators development and application. The mission of the Community Indicators Consortium is to advance and support the development, availability and effective use of community indicators for making measurable and sustainable improvements in quality of community life. To that end, they advance the art and science of indicators; facilitate the exchange of knowledge about the effective use of indicators; encourage development of effective indicators; and foster informed civic and media discourse about local, regional, national, and global priorities. For more, visit www.communityindicators.net.

Walk to work, or take a bus? New jobs access maps show where you can

Posted by admin on Apr 24, 2014

Update 5/27/14: Please see the Connecticut Mirror for a new op-ed by DataHaven Urban Fellow Deanna Song, “Connecting More People to Work in Greater New Haven,” which explores job access scenarios in greater detail.

Original article, 4/24/14: From the New Haven Green, you can walk to about 90,000 jobs within an hour commute. From the Milford Green, you can walk to about 16,000. From the Branford Green? About 3,000.

That’s according to a new “Jobs Access map” released yesterday by our colleagues at the Regional Plan Association (RPA). The interactive tool also allows you to look at where you can get to by car, public transportation, or bike, not to mention filter by travel time, desired industry, and worker education level.

AccessJobs

The new maps are based on complex data sets that were not available – i.e., not collected nationally – until relatively recently, the fruits of multi-year efforts by the Census Bureau and other agencies. You may find yourself disagreeing with a particular visualization, as the interactive map is based on the application of a somewhat uniform formula across the entire New York metropolitan area that makes assumptions about travel speeds, geography, and many other inputs. The outputs are based on a model, so like survey-based data, are not 100% precise.

The issue of metropolitan opportunity, which is highlighted in these maps, has an enormous impact on our economy, housing, well-being, and ability to be a sustainable and resilient city. Looking at the map, it is easy to see the importance of our transportation infrastructure and land use, and how it relates to issues of affordability (transportation is generally the second-largest household expense, after housing). In New Haven, the issue is particularly important, with New Haven Mayor Toni Harp emphasizing repeatedly that transportation is a civil rights issue. The largest-ever survey of our region, the Fall 2012 DataHaven Wellbeing Survey found that many families with children earning less than $50,000 per year did not have regular access to a car, while virtually all of those earning more than $50,000 per year did. Residents who rely on transit were much more likely to feel that the job market is poor.

Greater New Haven Jobs Access and Transit Study

Using the same data sets as those used in the RPA’s map, DataHaven is involved in a small study (previously reported here) that involves mapping transit and job patterns for the entire Greater New Haven region. Building upon the RPA’s aggregate map, we are able to also drill down into data by job shift (time of commute), neighborhood type, worker race/ethnicity, worker age, job earnings level, and other characteristics. This deeper local analysis can reveal interesting patterns around disparities in access to “living wage” jobs (already described in our 2013 Community Index).

Here’s one data point that stood out to us in our earlier work on this issue: There are 4,000 African-American and Hispanic workers earning less than $40,000/year who live in New Haven’s “Outer Ring suburbs,” a collection of 10 towns that surround our core municipalities of New Haven, East Haven, Hamden, and West Haven – that represents 4% of the total number of workers who live in those towns. At the same time, there are 16,000 African-American and Hispanic workers earning less than $40,000/year who hold jobs in those towns – that’s 15% of the total employment base in those towns.

As we showed in our Community Index, high-income workers living in our suburbs rely on New Haven for the majority of their high-paying jobs, but they also rely in large part on a substantially less well-paid, diverse workforce that commutes in from places like New Haven. If everyone had access to high-quality transportation whether or not they owned a vehicle, more of these suburban jobs – many of which fall within second shifts at retail centers – might be accessible to city residents.

Results from the initial study should be ready later in the year. In the meantime, follow RPA as they enhance their map and other data tools as part of their Fourth Regional Plan. As this is a new field, please contact DataHaven if you have suggestions on what issues are most interest to local legislators or organizations who are working on expanding economic opportunity, either at a neighborhood or a regional or statewide level.

DataHaven selected as fellowship site for Azavea Summer of Maps program

Posted by admin on Apr 21, 2014

Azavea, a nationally-prominent geospatial analysis (GIS) firm, has selected students from The University of Pennsylvania, Clark University, and Colgate University to each receive a $5,000 stipend to perform pro bono geospatial analysis work for non-profits over the summer.  The students were selected out of a pool of 125 student applications that came from all over the country. The program is sponsored by Azavea with additional financial support from Esri and The University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design.

As part of this program, Tim St. Onge, a Masters of Geographic Information Science for Development and Environment student at Clark University, will be working with DataHaven to analyze neighborhood indicators in the Greater New Haven and Valley Region.  Since 1992, DataHaven has focused on collecting and analyzing a large amount of information about Connecticut, and making it more useful to its community and government partners. DataHaven is a formal affiliate of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP), a group of approximately 40 local partners who seek to build local-level community information systems for use in policy-making and community development. DataHaven is also the “data steward” for the Connecticut Data Collaborative, a statewide public-private partnership formed to promote improved access to and use of state agency data.

DataHaven was chosen as a Summer of Maps fellowship site based on a competitive application process. Additional fellowship sites this year include the Community Design Collaborative and The Consortium for Building Energy Innovation in Philadelphia, GirlStart in Austin, TreePeople in Los Angeles, and City Harvest in New York City.

The Summer of Maps program provides free geospatial analysis to non-profits, while providing real professional experience to GIS students.  The program focuses on implementing geospatial data analysis projects that will have civic and social impact, including creating high-quality maps that can be used to support new initiatives or make a case to prospective funders.  More information is available at http://summerofmaps.com/.

Greater New Haven Community Index assesses region’s quality of life trends

Posted by admin on Oct 1, 2013

DataHaven Media Advisory – October 1, 2013

Greater New Haven Community Index assesses region’s quality of life trends

TitleBlock350The Greater New Haven Community Index 2013: Benchmarking the People, Economic Opportunity, Health Needs, and Civic Life of Our Region was published today by DataHaven and a group of community, government, and scientific partners. The report, which is available at www.ctdatahaven.org/communityindex, is believed to be the most comprehensive ever in the Greater New Haven region. For the first time, the Greater New Haven Community Index describes demographic change, education, economics, health, and civic life in our metropolitan area and its neighborhoods. The index ranks the Greater New Haven region as the 19th best-performing metropolitan region out of the 130 largest U.S. urban areas.

“The Community Index uses the most current and accurate neighborhood statistics – in many cases broken down in detail for the first time – to illustrate the opportunities and challenges that face the area where we live, work, and play,” said Mark Abraham, Executive Director of DataHaven and the report’s lead author.

The report highlights the strong interrelationships between factors that influence quality of life and happiness. For example, while schools are important, academic achievement is largely predicted by the health of the students and their families and the wellbeing of the neighborhoods where they grow up. The report also shows that the prosperity of older adults increasingly depends on the ability of our region’s children and young adults to achieve success themselves.

Other notable highlights:

    + Greater New Haven is as diverse as the nation as a whole. One in three residents identifies as a race or ethnicity other than “White,” up from one in five in 1990.
    + Our population is aging, raising concerns about the region’s ability to attract and retain a youthful workforce.
    + The region has a highly-educated population, with test scores and high school graduation rates increasing at the State average rate in most areas. Students in Connecticut and in outer suburbs, and students in the City of New Haven who identify as “White,” graduate at rates that are already above the Federal Government’s “Healthy People 2020” target of 82 percent. But low income students are significantly less likely to graduate.
    + The prosperity of suburban towns increasingly depends on the growing number of jobs located within the City of New Haven. Most commuters who hold jobs within a 2 mile radius of New Haven City Hall – 62 percent – hold a “living wage” job. But only 38 percent of employed workers who live within that same area hold one.
    + Greater New Haven is a healthy region, relative to the United States. However, rates of mortality and morbidity in low-income neighborhoods are significantly higher than in surrounding areas, with access to healthy foods, exercise, and safe neighborhoods among the factors identified as key public health concerns.
    + Citizens are confident in their ability to make Greater New Haven a better place. Most residents volunteer, contribute to local causes, and believe that their neighbors would mobilize to take action when needed.

    In addition to mining government data sources, the report shares data from two simultaneous field surveys conducted in 2012 by DataHaven and the Community Alliance for Research & Engagement at the Yale School of Public Health. Additional co-authors and sponsors, including The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, Yale-New Haven Hospital, and the New Haven Health Department, intend to update the Community Index on a regular basis, and use it to create regional “action plans,” identifying how government and business leaders can best measure and accelerate the region’s forward progress. Additional funders included the Carolyn Foundation, United Way of Greater New Haven, NewAlliance Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, The United Illuminating Company and Southern Connecticut Gas, as well as the Donaghue Foundation and Kresge Foundation, which support CARE.

    New Haven map and infographic: Who lives near homicides?

    Posted by admin on Jan 28, 2013

    Homicide Infographic

    Credits: Mark Abraham, Executive Director of DataHaven (author); Sasha Cuerda, Mapping Consultant; Mario Garcia and Amanda Durante of City of New Haven for co-authoring Health Equity Alliance document referenced in the graphic.

    Community Wellbeing Survey Shows that Greater New Haven Residents Have Much to Celebrate; Sets Sights on Shared Goals

    Posted by admin on Jan 18, 2013

    Note: Please visit http://www.ctdatahaven.org/wellbeingsurvey for more information on the survey, including downloadable reports and results.

    Though many survey results were positive, residents throughout Greater New Haven identified employment opportunities as a major challenge.

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    (New Haven, CT) January 18, 2013: DataHaven and a collaboration of community funders including The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and United Way of Greater New Haven today announced the results of their 2012 Community Wellbeing Survey, the largest survey of its kind ever conducted in the New Haven metropolitan area.  Managed by DataHaven, the Siena College Research Institute survey involved interviews with 1,307 randomly-selected residents between September 4 and October 16, 2012 on topics such as government services, education, and urban planning, as well as individual questions about civic engagement, health, and family economics.

    “Results from this survey show that we have much to celebrate,” according to Penny Canny, Ph.D., Senior Vice President for Grantmaking & Strategy at The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and President of the Board at DataHaven. “Four out of five respondents express personal satisfaction with the city or area where they live. We also have a strong foundation for further improvement, with a solid majority of residents giving time or money to local initiatives within the past year, believing that their personal economic circumstances will improve in coming years, and feeling their neighborhood is safe, trustworthy, and able to organize itself for change if needed.”

    The Wellbeing Survey measures progress toward longstanding community priorities, including the need to ensure that children have the opportunity to succeed and to boost the financial security of families. Although the metropolitan area generally does well when compared to the national average on measures of health, income, and human capital (for example, with its Congressional District 3 ranking among the top 20% nationwide in the Measure of America’s Human Development Index), the Wellbeing Survey’s timely new data shows that many residents continue to face significant barriers to economic success, educational achievement, health, housing, and other critical aspects of life.

    “As a scientific survey of our entire adult population, the Wellbeing Survey gives us a powerful tool to gauge the challenges facing our community, and will help guide our efforts to have greater impact,” explained Jennifer Heath, Executive Vice President at United Way of Greater New Haven and a DataHaven Board member.

    “For 20 years, DataHaven has been encouraging data sharing between local, state, and national programs. We believe that the information released today, and forthcoming analyses of the data, will be of great use to neighborhood groups and other initiatives that are collaborating to improve the quality of life in Greater New Haven,” noted Mark Abraham, Executive Director of DataHaven.

    As an example, Abraham points out that the Wellbeing Survey has been simultaneously coordinated with a health survey of six lower-income neighborhoods within the City of New Haven, conducted this fall by the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE), a community-academic partnership based at the Yale University School of Public Health. CARE, the City of New Haven Health Department, Yale-New Haven Hospital, DataHaven, and other local organizations have formed a partnership to improve their understanding of health conditions within the region and take action to address disparities. Results from the CARE survey are expected in the coming weeks.

    “Without common measures of where we stand, it is difficult for organizations to take collective action toward meeting community goals,” Dr. Canny of DataHaven said. “Addressing the disparities in wellbeing, where they exist, represents the greatest opportunity for us to boost the trajectory of our entire region. High levels of community engagement, in spite of the difficult conditions faced by many families, suggest that most residents are optimistic and willing to work on improving our region.”

    Residents are encouraged to visit an interactive website to read more and provide feedback on the results.

    CONTACT:

    Mark Abraham

    Executive Director

    Regional Data Cooperative for Greater New Haven, Inc. (DataHaven)

    129 Church Street, Suite 605

    New Haven, CT 06510

    203-500-7059

    info@ctdatahaven.org

    About the Greater New Haven Community Wellbeing Survey

    The 2012 Community Wellbeing Survey, a project of DataHaven, is thought to be the largest survey of its type ever conducted in our area. Although many questions were derived from other national surveys to enable comparability, the project focused on collecting information on community wellbeing that is not available from any other public sources.

    The 20-minute telephone survey, conducted by the Siena Research Institute at Siena College in Loudonville, New York, involved landline and cell phone interviews with 1,307 randomly-selected households between September 4 and October 16, 2012. Researchers interviewed residents age 18 and over from within a group of 13 municipalities including the City of New Haven, its “inner ring” (East Haven, Hamden, and West Haven), and “outer ring” suburbs (Orange, Milford, North Haven, Guilford, Branford, North Branford, Madison, Woodbridge, Bethany). The data are representative of neighborhoods and diverse populations throughout Greater New Haven.  Survey respondents are anonymous and will never be identified. The survey carries an overall margin of error of +/- 2.7%.

    DataHaven currently provides over $25,000 worth of free technical assistance to local nonprofit organizations and community groups each year, and will work to accommodate public requests for information from the survey. Please visit the DataHaven website for more information.

    About DataHaven

    DataHaven, an affiliate of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership in Washington, DC, was founded in 1992 as the Regional Data Cooperative to encourage information sharing and the stronger use of data within the public sector, including nonprofit organizations, researchers, and local residents. As a result of its relationships with the Connecticut Data Collaborative and other partners, DataHaven is managing an increasingly extensive array of community-level data from throughout the State about a wide variety of topics.

    About the Siena Research Institute

    Founded in 1980, the Siena College Research Institute, directed by Donald Levy, Ph.D., conducts political, economic, social and cultural research throughout the United States.  SRI, an independent, non-partisan research institute, subscribes to the American Association of Public Opinion Research Code of Professional Ethics and Practices. For more information, please call Don Levy at 518-783-2901.

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