CPRC recognizes that New York City (NYC), given its size, racial/ethnic diversity, extremes of wealth and poverty, and continuing role as a major point of entry for immigrants, is a rich environment for population health research.
Currently, there is extraordinary diversity in research on the complex relationship between the spatial arrangements of populations and health within urban settings being conducted by Columbia researchers. In fact, for many CPRC researchers, NYC serves as the laboratory for research that cuts across CPRC’s four signature areas: Children, Youth, and Families; HIV/AIDS and Reproductive Health; Immigration/Migration; and Urbanism.
At the Urbanism workshop convened by CPRC in the spring of 2007, it became clear that we are far from tapping into the full potential of NYC as a premier natural laboratory for population research. Despite several notable efforts to integrate information from numerous available data sources, there remains the need for an easily accessible and comprehensive repository of high quality data that spans the breadth of information necessary for state-of-the-art research on urban life.Mission
Because CPRC anticipates that members in all four of its signature research area groups will continue to engage in NYC-based research, the New York City Initiative (NYCI) was created to build a comprehensive NYC Communities data set. The creation of such a public use, multilayered New York City Communities data set will provide scholars with unparalleled information to investigate theories of population and health. It will also spur collaborations across methods and thematic areas. Finally, social indicator data that can be gleaned from this dataset will facilitate the development of research proposals and inform public policy.Activities
The NYCI working group will explore options for new data collection, including targeted, qualitative studies in specific neighborhoods or communities as well as the enhancement of existing local surveys (Social Indicators Survey or NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene [DOHMH] Community Health Surveys) or of the NYC-based portion of national surveys such as the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).
This group will also continue to engage with NYC policy-makers around applied policy projects such as the “shadow count,” described above.
Six Initiatives to Address Challenges Facing the New York City Initiative
Challenge: We need to be more efficient about the dissemination and sharing of NYC data sets that many Columbia University researchers have already assembled and are prime for secondary data analysis.
Initiative #1: To strengthen the visibility of existing NYC research and data sets within Columbia, CPRC has started and will continue to be a clearing house for NYC research. The CPRC website will post brief descriptions of CPRC member research on NYC studies, findings and information on accessing data sets.
Initiative #2: A small working group will be convened within NYCI to review ways to promote sharing of existing data sets. This working group’s agenda will include developing common protocols for documentation of research data sets for public use, as well as common protocols among Columbia Researchers for data sharing, attribution, and licensing arrangements.
Challenge: Many neighborhood variables of central theoretical interest for population research are either unavailable from existing data sources or, when present, are of uncertain reliability and coverage.
Initiative #3: Building upon the existing efforts of the Social Indicators Survey Center and other survey researchers, a small working group will be convened to identify an ideal data set of variables that measure the social and physical attributes of New York City neighborhoods. Based upon this catalogue of core variables, a continuing NYC data collection enterprise would be designed that would combine existing data sources with plans for future data collection to fill gaps in the existing set of neighborhood-level data
Challenge: There are many methodological challenges in collecting and analyzing geographically organized New York City data that limit research investigations.
Initiative #4: To explore issues related to the quality and coverage of administrative data sets, we propose to commission a series of white papers for ultimate publication that review the methodological issues related to the research use of administrative data sets that contain information on land use, air quality, and health care utilization.
Initiative #5: Working through the methodology core, we also will promote stronger integration of urban ethnographies with quantitative data collection. The New York City Initiative will emphasize devising innovative ways that ethnographic and qualitative findings on community and organizational practices may be linked geographically organized data bases.
Challenge: Columbia researchers alone cannot achieve a vision of a comprehensive urban research in New York City without collaborations with colleagues at other academic institutions, research organizations and government agencies engaged in similar data collection and research.
Initiative #6: Convene an external advisory committee to promote data sharing and research collaborations between researchers at Columbia and other New York City based research and data collection centers. Fortunately, Columbia researchers already are involved in numerous collaborations with our colleagues located elsewhere in New York City. What is lacking is a formal institutional center that would bring researchers together form throughout New York to discuss data access issues and common research problems. CPRC envisions being such a center, and to begin to achieve this purpose we propose to form an external advisory committee on New York City Population Studies with representatives from both academic and public agencies that would include: NYC’s DOHMH, NCY Department of Planning, Department of Housing Preservation and Development, NYC, and CUNY, New York Academy of Medicine, Medical and Health Research Association (MHRA), and the New York State Department of Health. The external advisory committee would not only facilitate common data collection initiatives but would be a forum for developing academic-public policy related projects drawing upon these data sources