The People’s Data Warehouse for Neighborhood Health Improvement
Building Healthy Communities
March 16, 2018
The presence or absence of sidewalks, bike lanes, parks, and trees have all been shown to have an effect on residents’ physical activity.
Studies have also shown that residents are more likely to use public spaces for physical activity if they have been involved in the design process. Although residents and community groups in the Two Bridges neighborhood on the Lower East Side have historically provided enormous input into neighborhood planning efforts, their needs, desires, and plans for a healthier community are not always reflected in projects. The result is that community members grow cynical and doubt that any real improvements will ever be made through these various planning processes. In 2018, NYSHealth awarded Hester Street Collaborative (HSC) a grant to develop an online tool that compiles neighborhood health improvement planning processes and projects, including those informed by residents of Two Bridges, to be used by local community groups, City agencies, and planners.
Under this grant, HSC built and piloted The People’s Data Warehouse for Neighborhood Health Improvement, a public website that compiled health improvement planning processes and projects in the Two Bridges neighborhood. The website (1) equipped local residents with information so they could participate fully in the co-creation of spaces in their neighborhood to encourage physical activity; (2) provided a clearinghouse of information that City agencies and planners used when developing their projects to ensure that those projects met the needs of residents; (3) assessed the impact of projects on improving neighborhood health using Community Health Profiles; (4) served as a dissemination vehicle to inform and better direct future investments; and (5) created a mechanism for residents and community groups to hold local government accountable for renovating public spaces in a timely manner. The website also identified overlapping priorities of various planning projects that occurred within Manhattan Community District 3, where Two Bridges is situated, allowing for enhanced coordination across projects. To lay the foundations of the website, HSC organized and convened advisory panels of residents, community-based organizations, City agencies, and other experts in community development and urban planning and design. The advisory panels helped inform the research, development, roll-out, and dissemination of the website. Members of the panels also (1) served as ambassadors to promote the website to local residents and planners and (2) developed recommendations for replicating the website in other neighborhoods.