Web GIS for Connecting At-risk Youth with Health Services

Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Services (AHS) (teenhealthcare.org) is a NYC-based program that “delivers comprehensive, integrated medical and mental health services and prevention education to young people aged 10 to 22”, and the largest center of its kind in the U.S.

Services it provides adolescents include:

  • Primary health care
  • Counseling, support, mental health, and family therapy
  • Sexual and reproductive health
  • Dental care
  • Nutrition, fitness, and wellness programs

To deliver on their core mission, the best data possible, the best technology, and apps to drive it are critical for outreach, and for connecting these services to the youth who need it.

Since just about everything about these services and the youth who use them are spatial (where are the youth, where are the services), making mapping technology central to the solution makes perfect sense. But before you can make an app, you need a map. And before you can make a map, you need data. The Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center’s MAPSCorps team knows this very well, and they have a plan, which includes an internship programs for students. The college student leaders (the Field Coordinators) manage teams of high school students (the Youth Mappers) serving as mobile data collectors to itemize and validate the locations, status, and attributes of various resources, in selected neighborhoods across NYC. Then together, student teams then analyze the data collected against various health problems identified for those neighborhoods and communities as part of their summer symposium presentations.

The MAPSCorps program are using ArcGIS to help them manage data collected in the field and map it, analyzing resource availability for these specific health issues and services. ArcGIS Story Maps will be used to present their observations, findings, and stories through flexible, interactive, and functional web application.

Currently, they have a few projects underway:

1) Harlem/South Bronx/Washington Heights:

Smoking Cessation, Gentrification, and Access to Healthy Foods

2) Brownsville/Bed Stuy:

Infant Mortality, Young People Living with HIV

3) Lower Eastside:

Access to Healthy Foods

What these data teams need next are tools. On July 31st, staff from Esri’s NYC office conducted a workshop for the college student leaders. We needed to cover a lot of ground fast, and get them productive as soon as possible, so the workshop followed the Data > Design > Develop pattern. Hands-on examples were used to have the students practice with techniques for working with data: for searching, finding, converting, modifying, creating, editing, and verifying it all. The better the data, the better the solution. Luckily the City of New York is one of the more forward-moving cities in the U.S. when it comes to its support of transparent government and citizen engagement supported by open data.

 

 

 

Next step…

The teams are pulling together their data, making their maps, and designing apps to deliver the ability to visualize and analyze, helping the teams–and the communities they’re serving–to see the services available and where they’re making a difference. On August 9th, the teams will present their findings at a symposium, and we will publish a Part II of this blog article, to show the great work they did and examples of how it’s helping.

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