What’s New in Civic Tech: Illinois Maps New Health Data

Plus, Pennsylvania data center makes Pittsburgh city parking data available to the public; Baltimore airport rolls out new tools for tracking flights and noise in great detail; and more.

by / July 18, 2019
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The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has added maternal and child health data to its existing Illinois Public Health Community Map, the agency announced in a recent press release. 

That map was first designed to disseminate information about access to health care throughout Illinois, while highlighting socioeconomic, geographic, and racial and ethnic disparities, the press release noted. The new data categories — maternal and child health — examine a range of factors, including low birth weight, breastfeeding, prenatal care during the first trimester of pregnancy, smoking during pregnancy, teen birth rate and more.   

“The addition of maternal and child health data can help clinicians, health care administrators, community stakeholders, and legislators identify areas where additional community resources and/or education are needed,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike in the release. “These data will ultimately help us improve maternal and child health outcomes.” 

The agency also added some new health risk categories that don’t fit into as neat of boxes as maternal and child health data. These include alcohol-impaired driving deaths; frequency of uninsured individuals under the age of 65; unemployed individuals above the age of 16 who are actively looking for work; children under 18 living in poverty; as well as others. 

Meanwhile, the public health agency also continues to update existing categories for the health factors that were already on the map, with these being asthma, behavioral health, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, emergency department visits, heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia.

Public technology agencies at all levels of government are working increasingly with health departments to map and coordinate on this kind of data. While the nation’s ongoing opioid crisis is often at the heart of such work, initiatives like this indicate an ongoing broadening of the work.

Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center Makes Pittsburgh City Parking Data Available

The Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center — which is a collaborative effort between academia and various levels of government in that area — has released new data about parking transactions in Pittsburgh.

The organization, of which Pittsburgh’s local government is a member, partnered with both the city and its local parking authority to compile data that would better illustrate how residents there use on-street meters and surface parking lots that are publicly operated.

The end goal is to help the city and the parking authority to dictate their parking rates based on demand. That data, the group noted in a blog this month, can also help facilitate the sharing of information across public agencies, leading to an overall better understanding of how mobility and transportation works in Pittsburgh. 

The product that grew out of all this work and cooperation was a new dashboard, one that allows users to learn more about parking data based on time of day, the number of transactions that took place and the cost of those transactions. Users can also toggle through the city’s designated parking zones, viewing data at a very detailed level. The dashboard also affords users the ability to look at all of its information based on specific, adjustable time periods.

That same blog goes into great detail about how the regional data center did what it did and why, painting a picture of a project that is ultimately scalable to any jurisdiction that can foster the same level of information sharing and cooperation. 

Baltimore Airport Rolls Out Tool for Tracking Flights and Noise Nearby

Baltimore’s international airport — BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport — has launched a new online tool that disseminates information to track flights and also determine resultant noise levels.

This system is called WebTrak, and as its site reports, it “provides an interactive portal for the viewing of aircraft overflights in the vicinity of BWI Marshall Airport.” The portal also goes past simple information sharing, giving its users the ability to not only view information about the Maryland Department of Transportation's aviation noise monitors — installed in communities near the airport — but also to file noise complaints about those noise levels. Users can geolocate places of interest, including their home or work, and WebTrak will show them the 30-minute delayed overflight pattern, or historical flight pattern data if they so choose. 

There’s quite a bit of granular data on the portal, including aircraft type, altitude of flights, origin of flights, destination airports and flight identifications.  

The tool was rolled out earlier this month, amid some controversy about flight patterns and resultant noise in the Baltimore area. Local news outlets in the area reported that in response to community complaints, the Federal Aviation Administration would reconsider a petition from Maryland asking them to revise flight routes near the airport, due to low-flight noise in communities.   

Zack Quaintance Assistant News Editor

Zack Quaintance is the assistant news editor for Government Technology. His background includes writing for daily newspapers across the country and developing content for a software company in Austin, Texas. He is now based in Washington, D.C. He can be reached via email.

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