Pinellas County Health and Human Services Coordinating Council
Pinellas County, on Florida’s West Coast, is a 280-square mile peninsula bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. The Health and Human Services Coordinating Council for Pinellas County works with funders and providers across the community to develop a human service system for citizens that provides seamless, high-quality care based on the best use of available resources.
The Council has developed a community information system (http://www.pinellasindicators.org/) that provides timely access to statistics and dynamic data visualization. The website is sponsored by Pinellas County and the Juvenile Welfare Board: The Children’s Service Council of Pinellas County.
Joe Baldwin is the Senior Researcher/Planner for the Council. We spoke to him to find out how the website is helping to meet the Council’s objectives and how it all started. Joe explains that the initial step was to bring stakeholders from health and human services agencies together to develop specifications. A guiding principle developed early on was that the system had to meet the needs of three groups: residents, elected officials and community leaders.
Residents wanted a better understanding of the quality of life in Pinellas County and to discover whether agencies’ efforts were having an impact. Elected officials wanted information about their constituencies and to be able to make data-driven decisions. Community leaders wanted to be able to monitor indicators that were important to their individual organizations.
Joe was already familiar with InstantAtlas but found out about the server version at a Community Indicators Consortium conference in Washington. He realised that this version was more suitable for the Council’s needs. “We are by comparison to other community indicator initiatives a small team,” says Joe.
Making the project work
“There were some challenges when it came to getting the system up and running but the support staff at GeoWise were very supportive. Once the initial leg work and the indicators were set up the team realised the extent of the efficiency gain.”
“The Health and Human Services Coordinating Council for Pinellas County was created by an interlocal agreement between funders, and it supports the efforts of many health and human service agencies working together to effect positive change in the community. This means a data presentation tool like this has to be highly collaborative. We have a data committee that is working to develop shared responsibility for the quality of the data and avoiding duplication of effort,” says Joe.
The website is now helping the county and its stakeholder groups track how various initiatives are working, through targeting priorities such as obesity. The large majority of the indicators used are also helpful for inter-county comparison.
This in turn is helping the council to meet four key objectives for the county. These are that: every person is physically and mentally healthy; every person has the opportunity to learn and succeed; every person has safe and stable and affordable housing and every person lives in a safe and sustainable community.
Joe says that the team is continuing to work on identifying further indicators which is an iterative process. “We want to create more indicators and seek out those that will provide additional information. We are on a journey in this respect. We want the indicators website to act a beacon for the community. If the community decides to spend approximately $4 million on obesity prevention then it is up to us to provide the data at a level of geography that will help us determine how successful the interventions have been.”
“It is likely that each year we will focus on a new area. I don’t think we have fully realised the benefits of the website,” says Joe.
Tell your Colleagues about Pinellas Indicators
Learn more about InstantAtlas Server - Click here
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community keywords - community health indicators, sustainable community indicators, community wellbeing indicators
PHOTO CREDIT : Peter Tosh