Taking Action With Data: Improving Environmental Public Health at the Community Level

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Abstract

Context:

The Wisconsin Environmental Public Health Tracking Program (Wisconsin Tracking) compiles and provides data on health endpoints and related environmental exposures as a resource to local health departments, tribes, academia, and other stakeholders. The goal of providing these data is that stakeholders use them to develop projects that improve environmental health in their communities—that is, moving from “data to action.”

Objective:

To encourage use of Wisconsin Tracking data, we developed a minigrants program and issued a funding opportunity to local health departments and tribes. The opportunity requested proposals for small projects using our data, with the goal of making public health improvements in those communities. Wisconsin Tracking evaluated the minigrants program after its completion.

Design/Setting:

Eight local health departments in Wisconsin were awarded up to $10 500 to develop and implement projects over a 9-month period.

Methods:

Wisconsin Tracking created a funding opportunity announcement requiring utilization of our data to develop projects by local health departments in Wisconsin. We reviewed and scored applications, evaluating proposals on a range of criteria. During the 9-month project period, Wisconsin Tracking staff members provided a variety of technical assistance to grantees. An evaluation of the overall program followed.

Results:

Funded communities used Wisconsin Tracking data to improve public health infrastructure, leverage partnerships, establish new initiatives, respond to emergencies, improve communication with stakeholders and residents, and make a variety of public health improvements in their communities.

Conclusions:

Efforts to increase use of our data catalyzed development of small-scale environmental health projects. This minigrants program was successful at building relationships between local health departments and Wisconsin Tracking, increasing awareness of Wisconsin Tracking data and resources, and contributing to numerous documented public health improvements throughout Wisconsin.

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