AUSTIN (KXAN) - By the end of this summer, Austin residents might be able tolook at a map, and see how many kids around their neighborhood areoverweight.
Doctors may also soon be able to look at a map of asthmapatients by neighborhood, and determine if building materials orenvironmental features are causing asthma in patients. Those twoexamples are part of the reason why Austin area hospitals, schools,and non-profits, have partnered together to map health careproblems in Travis County, based on neighborhood-level data.
"The real dilemma was how do we affect neighborhoods," saidDiana Resnick, a VP of Community Care with the Seton Family ofHospitals and board member of Children's Optimal Health.
Children's OptimalHealth has hired workers to map four social and health issuesin Travis County; obesity, prenatal care, student achievement as itrelates to public subsidized housing, and access to health care.Board members say agencies are sharing data with unprecedentedcooperation, in order to make children healthier in Austin.
"The data is very, very carefully used so that it is notidentifiable, so that nobody's compromised in any way," saidResnick.
For instance, the Austin Independent School District has sharedthe Body Mass Index of each student in a de-identified manner.State law requires school districts to check the Body Mass Index ofchildren.
"We de-identified so you can't tell what student," saidResnick. "But you can tell where we have areas in our communitywhere the Body Mass Index is higher."
Based on preliminary data, Children's Optimal Health boardmember Ellen Balthazar, also the executive director of Any BabyCan, has focused more of her outreach efforts to an area aroundNorth Lamar and Rundberg in North Austin. Children's Optimal Healthis using the area as a mini-case study with the data sets to learnabout different social needs.
"The information we've been able to see has helped us figureout how we can redistribute our outreach," said Balthazar.
She said more of her social workers are on the ground in thatneighborhood based on data that shows a higher concentration ofobesity. Officials have not come up with a hypothesis for thehigher concentrations, yet, Balthazar said the data convinced herthere may be more underlying problems in the area.
"Without some pretty good data that tells me there's a poolof opportunity there where our services are needed," saidBalthazar. "we probably wouldn't go to that level of staffcommitment."
The end goal of the mapping program is to help "link andleverage" different social agencies, schools and health carepartners to think about new ways to affect neighborhoods. Resnicksaid more than 90 agencies and non-profits are collaborating to usethe data. "Where are the hot spots, where are the services?" saidResnick. "Can we move some of the services to the hot spots?"
Resnick said her staff hopes to unveil a map of obesityconcentrations based on Austin neighborhoods by the end of thissummer.
An armed robbery in South Austin set off a search for two men with guns early Friday morning.
Two school buses and a car crashed on eastbound Parmer Lane near Ranch Road 620 on Friday morning but there were no reports of injuries.
A local road project more than two decades in the making won't save drivers as much time as many had hoped.
The University of Texas Board of Regents adjourned Thursday without taking action on the job status of embattled UT President Bill Powers.
Longhorns coach Mack Brown talked with reporters Thursday for the first time since reports surfaced this week that he could be stepping down.
Patchy light rain is forecast in Central Texas Friday as an upper level disturbance moves across the state. Rainfall totals are expected to be very light, and showers will end by Friday night. Sunshine, but breezy and cool conditions are …