New CDC tool maps chronic disease at the neighborhood level in 500 cities

This information provided by Smart Cities Council Compassionate Cities.


Until now, according to the Centers for Disease Control, data to effectively address health-related issues like chronic diseases and negative health behaviors evident in cities and neighborhoods have been limited. A new interactive web tool CDC recently launched has the potential to help public health agencies improve the health of millions. – Philip Bane


The CDC's new 500 Cities website provides users a way to view and explore city and neighborhood-level health data for America’s 500 largest cities.

The interactive tool is part of the 500 Cities Project, a collaboration between the CDC, the CDC Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. According to a CDC announcement, the first-of-its-kind project identifies, analyzes and reports on 27 chronic disease measures focusing on conditions, behaviors and risk factors that have a substantial effect on people’s health.

What's new is the granularity offered – with data available down to the neighborhood level.

“Having the ability to report and map health data at city and neighborhood levels is a game-changer for public health,” said Wayne H. Giles, M.D., director of CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. “Local level data available through the 500 Cities website provide health information to better inform and target strategies that are proven to work in improving health.”

How it works
Statistical small area estimation techniques are used to model the prevalence estimates for the cities and neighborhoods from the CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

The new web application enables public health professionals, policymakers, and researchers to see and use the data to effectively address and target interventions to specific areas where they are most needed. The interactive mapping application enables users to zoom in to their neighborhood and look at local data compared with data for the entire city.

The CDC points out that the data can be used to:

  • Identify the chronic health issues facing a city or neighborhood
  • Identify emerging chronic health problems
  • Establish key health goals
  • Develop and implement effective and targeted prevention activities

"The 500 Cities Project reflects an innovation in health data for more than 100 million people – a third of the U.S. population,” said Donald F. Schwarz, vice president for program at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.

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