Using the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership to Improve Public Health
The National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP) is a collaborative effort to use local information in community building and policymaking. The task of building local data systems is given to a local intermediary in each of the 19 NNIP partnership cities. The partners obtain data from a variety of agencies, geocode it to the neighborhood level, and make it available to users. In the first seven years of the NNIP, the partners have learned several important lessons. First, data at the local (neighborhood) level are essential for developing public policy. Second, advances in technology over the past decade have made it possible to maintain these detailed local databases at relatively low cost. Third, there are a variety of types of local organizations that can effectively serve as the local partner, from academia to government, community foundations, or other community-based nonprofits. Fourth, as with most endeavors, good leadership is critical to successfully building the bridges across multiple agencies. Finally, a major lesson from the NNIP experience is that providing data is only the first step. Data must be used in ways that are visible, useful, and responsive to the community if the project is to retain local support and enthusiasm.