Policy Tools


There are a variety of public health-related tools and data, some of which are highlighted and linked to below.


Public Health Frameworks

Social Determinants of Health

Social determinants include neighborhood and built environment, health and health care, economic stability, education, and social and community context. All of these determinants have an impact on health. Per the World Health Organization (WHO), health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not just the absence of disease.

Health in All Policies

Southern Californians face health impacts, both positive and negative, from the policies made in 22 state agencies, departments, and offices. Active transportation is a key factor of healthy and sustainable communities from everything such as creating cleaner air quality to physical activity. Understanding how different policies will influence health outcomes is necessary for all communities.

Health Equity

Health disparities affect vulnerable communities at a greater scale than other communities. Section 131019.5 of the California Health and Safety Code hopes to combat this. The goal is to improve health, mental health, and well-being for all people. To achieve optimal health, social, economic, and environmental conditions should be examined.


State Tools

California Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (CalBRACE)

CalBRACE is a project through California Department of Public Health (CDPH) that aims to enhance the agency’s capability to plan for and reduce health risks associated with climate change. The CalBRACE project focuses on preparing for three main climate impacts: increasing temperature/extreme heat, wildfire, and sea level rise (including flooding). The project aims to enhance preparedness and resilience at the state and local levels to the threats and changes posed by climate change. Climate Change and Health Profile Reports were created to prepare counties for the health impacts related to climate change through adaptation planning.

Climate Change and Health Profile Reports:

California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool (CalEnviroScreen)

The California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool (CalEnviroScreen) is a science-based screening tool developed by the California Environmental Protection Agency’s (Cal/EPA) Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) that can be used to help identify California communities that are disproportionately burdened by multiple sources of pollution.

California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) Planning

Caltrans’ Division of Transportation Planning articulates a long-term vision for California’s transportation system and implements statewide transportation policy through partnerships with State, regional, and local agencies. The Division provides quality Planning Products, Services, and Information to support and guide transportation investment decisions.

California Health Interview Survey (CHIS)

The California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), is the nation’s largest state health survey it provides data from Californians and about the state’s racial and ethnic groups. The survey provides yearly insights on population health. Two data query systems are part of CHIS: AskCHIS and AskCHIS Neighborhood Edition. AskCHIS allows users to search for health statistics at the county, region, and state level. AskCHIS Neighborhood Edition is a data visualization and dissemination platform that allows searching at smaller geographies such as, zip code, city, county, legislative districts to produce tables, thematic maps, and bar charts.

California Healthy Places Index (HPI)

The Public Health Alliance has developed a composite index to identify cumulative health disadvantages across California. The purpose of the Healthy Places Index (HPI) is to prioritize public and private investments, resources, and programs. HPI includes diverse non-medical economic, social, political, and environmental factors that influence physical and cognitive function, behavior and disease. These factors are often called either health determinants or social determinants of health and form the root causes of disadvantage.

California Heat Assessment Tool

The California Heat Assessment Tool, funded by the California Natural Resources Agency, was developed for local and state health practitioners to understand heat vulnerabilities driven by climate change and where action can be taken to mitigate public health impacts of extreme heat in the future.

California Protected Areas Data Portal

The California Protected Areas Data Portal provides a detailed GIS inventory of all parks and open space owned by agencies and non-profits in California and serves as a resource to assess access and proximity.

Governor’s Office of Planning and Research: General Plan Guidelines for Healthy Communities

The Office of Planning and Research publishes General Plan Guidelines, which include a section on building Healthy Communities. The guidelines include a general analysis on a number of topic areas, as well as links to sources of health related data.

Healthy Communities Data and Indicators Project (HCI)

California Department of Public Health’s Office of Health Equity developed the Healthy Communities Data and Indicators Project (HCI) which provides standardized sets of statistical measures, data, and tools on the social determinants of health in California. The project’s goal is to provide datasets and tools that inform agencies across a variety of sectors in order for them to plan for healthy communities and evaluate the impact of plans, projects, policy, and environmental changes on community health.

Transportation Injury Mapping System (TIMS)

The Transportation Injury Mapping System (TIMS) is a tool that provides access to California crash data, the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) that has been geocoded to map out crashes.


National Tools

American Community Survey (ACS)

The American Community Survey (ACS) is a survey given by the Census Bureau of the United States. It provides information at various geographic levels. The (ACS) is a yearly survey that covers a wide range of topic areas such as housing characteristics, income profiles, and other population characteristics. It is a tool that allows analysis of the past to plan for the future.

Community Commons

Community Commons is an initiative run by Institute for People, Place, and Possibility (IP3). IP3 is a non-profit working to create healthy, equitable, sustainable communities. The initiative strives to provide the best tools, resources, data, and stories to help change-makers advance equitable community health and well-being.

Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS)

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) receives Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS) data that is custom from the U.S. Census American Community Survey. This data is used to demonstrate the number of households in need of housing assistance which is determined by the amount of housing units with housing problems or low income (30, 50, or 80 percent of median income). Local governments use this data to allocate HUD funds or distribute HUD grants.

U.S. Small-area Life Expectancy Estimates Project (USALEEP)

USALEEP is a partnership with National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), and the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS). The project produced a new measure of health for where you live through census tract level estimates in the United States for the period 2010-2015.