Creating a Public Health Resource Map for Towns in the NC-8 Region

Client NC-8

Practice Area Program/Project Management

The Story of NC-8 Local Public Health Coalition

The Norfolk County-8 Local Public Health Coalition (NC-8) consists of health departments from Canton, Dedham, Milton, Needham, Norwood, Walpole, Wellesley, and Westwood, Massachusetts. The Coalition has been interested in transitioning away from paper-based and decentralized online directories of public health resources and towards a cohesive digital solution that can be used by residents of all NC-8 towns. Due to the geographic proximity of these towns to each other, the communities the NC-8 coalition serves tend to have significant overlap in their public health needs, and similarly, the resources that might be useful to residents of one NC-8 town are often useful to residents of the other NC-8 towns. At the outset of this project, the NC-8 coalition expressed an interest in digitizing the information its constituent towns hold about local public health resources into a unified format.

The Challenge of Decentralized Information about Public Health Resources

The residents of the NC-8 region can often access resources in towns within and around the NC-8 towns, but basic information about these resources tends to be scattered across websites. A resident of an NC-8 town interested in accessing a public health resource might visit their town’s website, but unknowingly be limiting themselves to resources in a particular geographic location. The challenge that the NC-8 jointly identified with BME Strategies was in consolidating otherwise dispersed information about public health resources across multiple towns into an accessible, centralized format. NC-8’s ideal solution was to have regional resources displayed visually on a map, with symbols and easy-to-access descriptions to guide users who are less familiar with the landscape of public health resources in the NC-8 area.

How BME Strategies Responded

BME Strategies performed some initial data collection of public health resources using government and nonprofit websites, identifying the physical locations of offices and resource spaces within the NC-8 borders, as well as resources outside of NC-8 that could still be applicable to regional residents. The BME Strategies team collated the data collected in the initial iteration of the project into a single dataframe, and then split that dataset into the following sections using Python code: Access & Functional Needs, Economic Support Services, Legal Resources, LGBTQ+ Community Resources, Mental Health Services, Resources for Diverse Communities, Services for Seniors, Veteran’s Services, and Women, Infants, and Families. The split data was mapped based on the geographic coordinates supplied in the initial phase of the project.

The Results

BME Strategies presented the interactive resource map at a NC-8 meeting, demonstrating the utility of the tool for residents searching for local resources. Residents of these towns can use the resource map to visualize the geographic locations of relevant public health resources in several different categories, offering the end user the opportunity to assess a resource’s suitability to their personal needs in very few steps.

Overall Impact Statement

BME Strategies prepared a customized, interactive map for the health departments in the Norfolk County-8 Local Public Health Coalition, offering constituents an easy-to-access and visually engaging resource to identify and locate relevant public health services in their communities.