Emily Badger is a former staff writer at CityLab. Her work has previously appeared in Pacific Standard, GOOD, The Christian Science Monitor, and The New York Times. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area.
Los Angeles rolls out interactive neighborhood health profiles covering everything from crime stats to obesity rates.
Two years ago, we would have celebrated the city that published all of its crime stats on an open, interactive platform, or the city that made it easy for residents to track where vehicle collisions most commonly occur, or the city that recognized the link between childhood obesity rates and access to parks.
We're not too impressed by any of that any more. As the open data movement has matured, public city-wide vital stats have come to feel more like a citizen's right than a civic innovation. This is where things should head next: Take all of that data, map it, connect the dots between public health, land use, economics, education, crime and housing. And portray those patterns – and the inequality they often reveal – down to the neighborhood level.
Los Angeles has recently done just this, rolling out a web tool as part of its Plan for a Healthy Los Angeles that maps a tremendous number of metrics about life in the region, at both the city and neighborhood scales. Just a sampling of the dozens of metrics, via the portal from the L.A. Department of City Planning, the L.A. County Department of Public Health and The California Endowment:
Much of the data comes from the Health Atlas [PDF] the city released earlier this year, which made clear that life expectancies, for example, varied considerably across town. In an interactive mapping tool, however, that same information is now much more accessible, and can be viewed city-wide or by neighborhood:
There are inevitably a million smaller stories in all this data (in addition to the larger lesson for city governments elsewhere). And we can imagine this tool put to use by researchers and would-be residents alike. If you live in L.A., or just happen to geek out on civic data, let us know what you might do with this.