New Online Tool Provides Access to Local Data

Feb 18, 2014

The Healthy Living Alliance, along with 14 other area organizations, has unveiled a new tool to help community leaders inform the public about the current status of things like poverty and obesity.   

The Southwest Missouri Counts! community dashboard is being compared to a dashboard on a car.  Just as a car’s dashboard shows the current status of important measurements such as fuel level and speed, a community dashboard shows the current status of things like poverty, health and education.

The dashboard uses a model developed by the Healthy Communities Institute, which has been implemented in more than 30 states.  It provides free online access to a clearinghouse for local data in seven counties: Greene, Polk, Dallas, Christian, Stone, Taney and Webster.

Robert Niezgoda, director of the Taney County Health Department, says the site has over 100 preloaded indicators, and there are plans to add more.

"Everything from obesity information, environmental indicators.  We have just a wide variety of heart disease as well as communicable disease, environmental data indicators," he said.

He says anyone can suggest data that would be useful to those using the dashboard.  And he says they’d like to see a variety of people use it from nonprofit organizations to government agencies.

"It's just a way really to have a resource where, if you are going to some grant writing, if you are going to do any sort of research, you can go to this one point, find out at your fingertips--get information as well some initiatives and what's happening in terms of different collaborations around the area," he said.

According to a news release from Southwest Missouri Counts! the dashboard will allow organizations and communities “to make evidence-based decisions” so they “can develop and collaborate around local initiatives that will help move the dial as they address community challenges.”

Greene County Commissioner Harold Bengsch is excited about the new tool.

"It will certainly provide a focus for the community to look at what has succeeded in other communities," he said.

You can access the community dashboard here.