Delaware Public Media

New online tool provides community-level health and environmental data

May 13, 2019

The state has launched a publicly accessible data tool to help Delawareans track health and environmental risks in their neighborhoods.

 


On the new My Healthy Community web tool, users can enter their address and find localized demographic, health and environmental data. This includes public and private drinking water results, air quality, asthma incidence and drug overdose deaths. In some cases, the data is available down to the census block group.

The database launched Monday was created by the state Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker says the web tool will let residents compare health data and environmental risk factors in their neighborhood to those in other neighborhoods— and hold state officials accountable when not enough progress is being made.

“Today I believe the public will have the greatest interest in the substance use related data on this new site, including overdose deaths, non-fatal overdose emergency department visits, prescription data monitoring information and youth use of prescription pain medications,” said Odom Walker. She adds that neighborhood-level substance use data has been requested by residents.

Sandra Smithers is director of the New Castle Prevention Coalition. She says the data portal will allow her organization to access for the first time localized overdose rates— which will help guide their substance use prevention programming and be useful in grant applications. She says being able to look at environmental factors along with substance use will also help.

“In order to even begin to address that, we have to look at the social issues that impact our community,” she said. “There’s been air pollution, there’s been unemployment.”

Officials say more data will be added to the tool in the coming months, including on economy, education, maternal and infant health, lead poisoning, violent deaths and infectious diseases.