Community Dashboard: Measuring Local Data Helps Inform Us

San Benito Community Dashboard Offers Real-time Measurements and Action Steps

     BenitoLink launched the San Benito Community Dashboard this week, a reliable source of  current community health and population data available to our community. Armed with this knowledge, community leaders and stakeholders can develop policies and programs focused on addressing conditions reflected in the data and plan strategies for improvement. The Dashboard is made possible with a generous grant from Gavilan College and Vision San Benito, the community outreach project of the Community Foundation for San Benito County. 

     The Dashboard is an outcome of the Healthy San Benito Initiaitve, (HSBI) a 10-month project looking at the health of our community. HSBI was a broad-based collaboration of community groups to assess gaps in our county's social and physical wellbeing.

     "Healthy communities are not just about physical health," said Dr. Alvaro Garza, the county's former Public Health Officer. "Health is about physical, mental and social well-being as well."

      The HSBI core planning group met for seven months to organize the effort and engaged key stakeholders in the county. The goal of HSBI is to ensure that all county residents have access to quality public health services that meet national standards for accreditation, and to improve collective community health.

     Funded by a $35,000 grant from The Health Trust, the effort was led by the county's Public Health Department with assistance from the Community Foundation for San Benito County's Vision Project. Other participants included the YMCA, the Youth Alliance, First 5, Hazel Hawkins Hospital, the Hollister Fire Department, The Gang Task Force, and The Health Foundation. The group held a series of community Listening Sessions in 2013 to seek input from residents about how the county can improve public health and implement policies that lead toward greater health. HSBI released a report in January summarizing feedback from a series of more than 12 community meetings and data collection specific to San Benito County. A full copy of the HSBI report, can be found here. Appendices can be seen here. 

    The Community Dashboard will carry on this work with real-time, up-to-date data specific to San Benito County.  Hosted by BenitoLink, the Dashboard will be managed by the nationally-recognized Healthy Communities Institute, a leading provider of community health indicator platforms.

   "Success in today’s environment of results-based accountability requires an integrated approach for pinpointing at-risk populations and areas of need, implementing programs proven to affect change, creating efficiencies by partnering with internal and external groups, then tracking and reporting your results in a transparent way to all your stakeholders. Healthy Communities Institute® empowers you to do all this, and more," according to the HCI homepage.

     Mapping and data visualization tools readily identify intervention opportunities for targeting resources. A database of thousands of evidence-based programs lets users filter to find the most appropriate actions for organizations'  strategies. Collaboration centers bring like-minded groups together to align objectives and orchestrate core capabilities while customizable trackers and indicators provide a “single source of truth” for measuring success. The platform’s award-winning, web-based technology is highly efficient, affordable and used across the the United States covering more than 100 million lives.

     Organizers hope the Dashboard will be used by professionals, businesses, non-profits and individuals to better understand what's happening in San Benito County. Hospitals and  other organizations will be able to use the data to better inform staff members about the community's needs. Funding for the project has been raised through 2014.  

Julie Finigan Morris

Julie Finigan Morris is a journalist and business owner. She has worked as staff writer for several news organizations, including Thomson Newspapers in Washington D.C., McClatchy Newspapers and Scripps News Service. She is also the Co-Founder and Owner of Morris Grassfed and has lived in San Benito County for more than 25 years. Morris has also worked in corporate communications, marketing, and the non-profit sector. She is a founding board member of BenitoLink and currently serves on its Editorial Committee. She recently published her first novel, Exit Strategy. Visit her online at juliefmorris.com