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Santa Clara Co. unveils health data portal

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The public health department for Santa Clara County has launched a new data portal that offers hundreds of numbers and visualizations regarding public safety in the South Bay.

The information is centered around the county’s health goals, which include reducing childhood obesity, drug use, suicide rates and increasing access to health and wellness resources.

Users can access and download the data for free and sort the information by demographic, location and time period. All information is sourced from local and federal public agencies.

Rocio Luna, deputy director for the health department, said the open data follows strict guidelines to abide by health security laws and confidentiality agreements.

The public can’t zoom in on maps to see specific addresses where a subject may have an illness, and statistics are presented as aggregates, rather than individual cases.

The data includes sensitive information, such as suicide method statistics, but Luna said the county worked with health professionals and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure the portal does not increase health risks among vulnerable populations.

Luna said:

“Part of making change, any kind of change, is building knowledge … We hope that this, first and foremost, is about building knowledge about important health issues affecting communities and our residents in the county.”

The website, http://sccphd.org/healthdata, also offers context for local health issues with its “Stories of our Data” feature. This function includes testimony from people who have experienced illnesses like tuberculosis, and offers resources for fighting opioid and other drug addictions.

Though the department plans to expand the portal and update data as it becomes available, statistics on police violence and law-enforcement related health issues are not yet available.

Santa Clara County will officially launch its open data initiative in the coming months, including health statistics as well as statistics on housing, business, transportation, law enforcement, the environment and other topics.

Department spokeswoman Britt Ehrhardt said the open data project is expected to cost $230,000 over three years, including software licenses, development, training and additional fees.

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