Environmental Public Health Tracking: Community Design Data

Wisconsin Tracking provides information about community design in Wisconsin. Community design is all of the human-made elements of a community that make-up the physical characteristics of that community.

These elements include:

  • Buildings, such as schools, workplaces, and homes
  • Roads
  • Parks and recreation areas
  • Transportation systems
  • Places to buy food

Access the community design data

 

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In the section below, there are frequently asked questions about community design in general.

How is community design related to public health?

The way we design and build our communities affects our physical and mental health. Healthy community design is planning and designing communities that make it easier for people to live healthy lives. Healthy community design can provide many advantages:

  • Promote physical activity
  • Improve air quality
  • Lower risk of injuries
  • Improve healthy eating habits
  • Increase social connection and sense of community
  • Reduce contributions to climate change

Public health problems in the U.S., such as motor vehicle-related injuries, obesity, physical inactivity, and breathing and heart problems related to air pollution are all influenced by the design of our communities. Designing communities that encourage healthy choices is critical to improving the health and quality of life of community members.

Why does Wisconsin Tracking track community design?

Gathering data on elements of community design, such as motor vehicle-related fatalities and types of transportation to work, can help inform community design decisions. Multiple agencies monitor these elements and related environmental and health impacts to make sure that people live in healthy environments.

By tracking these elements of community design we are better able to assess whether people have access to:

  • Public transportation, like buses or trains
  • Sidewalks and bike paths
  • Stores that sell food, especially those stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Safe and energy efficient housing
  • Parks and public spaces

What is the data source?

The community design data used on the Wisconsin Tracking Portal are developed from a combination of resources.

Access to Parks and Public Elementary Schools
Park data come from NAVTEQ, a commercial company that provides GIS data. School data come from the National Center for Educational Statistics which provides street addresses for each school record.

Motor Vehicle-Related Fatalities
The motor vehicle-related fatality data are available from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). FARS contains data on all vehicle crashes in the United States that occur on a public roadway and involve a fatality.

Proximity of Population to Schools and Highways
These data were created using data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and road network data from NAVTEQ, a commercial company that provides GIS data.

Commute Time
The types of transportation to work data were developed from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS). ACS collects data on demographic characteristics, family and relationships, income, health insurance, education, veteran status, where people work and how they get there, and homeowner status. This information is similar to the Census, but it is collected every year rather than every 10 years.

Which topics does Wisconsin Tracking have for community design?​

Please note that not all topics are available at both the census tract and county geographies.

  • Access to Parks and Public Elementary Schools
    • Number of children aged 5 to 9 years living within a half mile of a public elementary school
    • Number of people living within a half mile of a park
    • Percent of population aged 5 to 9 years living within a half mile of a public elementary school
    • Percent of population living within a half mile of a park​
  • Commute Time
    • Average one-way commute time (minutes) for workers 16 years and older for all travel modes
    • Number of workers 16 years and older driving 20+ minutes to work (car, truck, van)
    • Number of workers 16 years and older taking public transportation 45+ minutes to work
    • Number of workers 16 years and older walking 10+ minutes to work
    • Percent of workers 16 years and older driving 20+ minutes to work (car, truck, van)
    • Percent of workers 16 years and older taking public transportation 45+ minutes to work
    • Percent of workers 16 years and older walking 10+ minutes to work
  • Motor Vehicle-Related Fatalities
    • Number of fatal motor vehicle crashes
    • Percent of fatal motor vehicle crashes involving cyclists or pedestrians
    • Rate of fatal motor vehicle crashes per 100,000 population
  • Proximity of Population and Schools to Highways
    • Number of people living within 150m of a highway
    • Number of public schools located within 150m of a highway
    • Percent of people living within 150m of a highway
    • Percent of public schools located within 150m of a highway​

What are some considerations for interpreting the data?​

There are numerous considerations to keep in mind when interpreting the data. Please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Tracking Program Indicators and Data webpage for additional information.

Select the content area from the drop down list, e.g., Community Design. Then select the specific indicator you are interested in from the drop down list, e.g., "Access to Parks and Public Elementary Schools."

Where can I learn more about community design?

Last Revised: June 22, 2020