Edmonton researchers launch online resource with local social, economic data

·2 min read
How many Edmontonians experience homelessness, is one of the questions a new database answers.  (Travis McEwan/CBC - image credit)
How many Edmontonians experience homelessness, is one of the questions a new database answers. (Travis McEwan/CBC - image credit)

The Edmonton Social Planning Council has launched an online resource to help Edmontonians better understand social and economic issues in the city.

The Social Well-Being Tracker hosts a range of information on topics such as employment, health, education and poverty, which make up what the organization calls Edmonton's "community health."

"I think local data is important so you can get a really big sense of what the challenges and circumstances are in our specific community," said Sydney Sheloff, research officer at the council.

"Presenting data at larger levels like Canada-wide or even Alberta-wide, you know, the local context can get lost in there."

Until now, the council has published this data in their biannual report Tracking the Trends, used by many non-profit organizations in the city. It launched the Social Well-Being Tracker on their website last week in order to make the information more widely available.

"The Social Well-Being Tracker will enable community agencies, policy-makers, and the average citizen alike to access data in order to foster a complete understanding of social issues that affect Edmontonians, and work towards solutions for the common good," said Susan Morrissey, the executive director of the council, in a news release.

By digitizing these reports, Sheloff said it'll allow for more timely updating of information, and easier access by all members of the community.

"The tracker is useful for pretty much anyone because like for everyone, awareness of social issues is a critical component towards building an inclusive community," Sheloff said.

"It's also a lot easier to navigate it because before with a report, you may have to scroll through pages and pages worth of data, but now you can easily just search what you're interested in and find that data right away."

Social determinants of health central to the tracker's data

The council says data in the tracker is organized around the social determinants of health framework. According to the government of Canada, determinants of health "are the broad range of personal, social, economic and environmental factors that determine individual and population health."

Factors such as education, income, social supports, race, racism and gender are highlighted as some of the main determinants.

The tracker offers insight into many of these areas, with a local perspective. A few questions the database answers are how many Edmontonians experience homelessness, what the Edmonton public high school completion rate is, and what the current gender pay gap is.

"It's really important to know what's specifically going on in our community so we can create targeted strategies to address those challenges," Sheloff said.

The tracker can be accessed on the council's website.

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