DataHaven, a New Haven based nonprofit data analytics group, completed their largest neighborhood-level well-being survey of Connecticut last Monday. The analysis of these findings is now underway.
The Community Wellbeing Survey, administered by the Siena College Research Institute, collected data from a representative sample of almost 17,000 Connecticut residents to paint a picture of specific neighborhoods using social and economic markers, Executive Director of DataHaven Mark Abraham said. Roughly 100 different local agencies supported the project by raising money to fund the survey’s distribution and by encouraging residents in their neighborhoods to participate.
“[The survey] is a mix of measures that people have been interested in at the local level for a long time — things like how safe it is to walk outside, personal health related measures and economic measures that you can’t obtain from other sources at the moment,” Abraham said.
The survey’s methodology differed from most U.S. studies of well-being because it relied more heavily on qualitative measures than quantitative ones. Instead of only using objective measures like income, the survey asked participants around 100 interview questions over the phone. The survey, which lasted an average of 18 minutes, included questions about how happy participants thought they were and how satisfied they were with life in their neighborhood. For instance, participants were asked how easy it was for them to obtain employment, how good of a job they felt the local police did and whether they considered their neighborhood a “poor, fair, good or excellent,” place to raise children.
“We spoke to people from every single socioeconomic point in the state of Connecticut. They had an opportunity to tell their stories, so their stories are here. Within these numbers are very concrete experiences,” SRI Director Don Levy said.
The 2015 survey was an expansion of the DataHaven 2012 Greater New Haven Community Wellbeing Survey — which gathered data specific to New Haven — to encompass all of Connecticut.
Abraham said the expanded reach of the survey was made possible by local sponsors. Each city that participated in the survey gathered their own group of local agencies to collaborate on funding streams for the phone interviews and the analysis of their findings.
“I think it’s a good example of how a lots of different funders and nonprofit organizations can come together. I think there’s a real strength in the fact that lots of people and organizations came together to do this as one,” said Jennifer Heath, executive vice president of United Way of Greater New Haven — one of the New Haven agencies that helped fund the survey.
Such community organizations will be able to use the well-being survey as a common, extensive data source after analysis of this data is complete.
Yale-New Haven Health System Senior Community Benefits Administrator Augusta Mueller said the neighborhood-level data from the survey could improve community health by highlighting what medical services are most needed in different parts of the city.
“We’ve used the 2012 data for [health] screening programs. It really helps target where you might best want to position a screening,” Mueller said.
Abraham noted that a further positive outcome of the data could be people coming together to talk about the issues that impact happiness and health in their towns.
DataHaven is already planning to administer their 2018 Community Wellbeing Survey.