DataHaven Celebrates 20 Years of Service to Greater New Haven; Community Wellbeing Survey Seeks to Measure Local Quality of Life

(New Haven, CT) August 28, 2012: Beginning in September and continuing through October, more than 1,300 adults living throughout Greater New Haven will be interviewed by phone about wellbeing within their community. Modeled after other national surveys on quality of life, the survey will allow funders and local residents to have an in-depth look at key issues such as civic engagement, economic opportunity, health, and education, in some cases for the first time.

The study will represent part of a complete update of Community Compass, a 2003 data compendium that helped develop a broadly-shared understanding of the conditions that impact wellbeing and economic prosperity within the New Haven metropolitan region as a whole. The identity of survey respondents will remain anonymous. Aggregated data collected from the Community Wellbeing Survey will be shared with nonprofits, municipalities, elected officials and the broader public to increase understanding of the region's needs and opportunities, and help inform decisions regarding resource allocation.

“After almost 10 years, community institutions and foundations, including The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, the United Way of Greater New Haven, the Carolyn Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and major employers have convened around the need for updated community indicators data about Greater New Haven. Civic organizations and public agencies need access to the most accurate and recent data available in order to guide their work, and neighborhoods need these data to take action on key issues,” said Penny Canny, Ph.D., President of the Board of DataHaven, the nonprofit organization that is managing the survey effort.

DataHaven, an affiliate of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership in Washington, DC, was founded in 1992 as the Regional Data Cooperative to encourage information sharing and the stronger use of data within the public sector, including academic researchers and local residents. This summer, DataHaven released a report which describes the accomplishments of the group and includes a set of community-level data tracked between 1990 and the present. DataHaven is managing an increasingly extensive array of community-level data from throughout the State about a wide variety of topics.

According to Mark Abraham, Executive Director of DataHaven, an increasing number of local-level data sets have become available to the public over the past few years, including the 2010 Census, American Community Survey, Local Employment Dynamics, and many others. “Like other national surveys of wellbeing, the Greater New Haven Community Wellbeing Survey is important because it will begin to collect information on quality of life that is not available from any other source, but that is no less important than the typical set of indicators we commonly use to measure social or economic trends,” said Abraham.

Following the completion of the project in November, DataHaven will publish a detailed report with survey results as well as data on other common measures of community health at the local level. In recent years, civic organizations throughout the New Haven area have been conducting a variety of surveys to help make decisions and target investments. For example, in 2009, a door-to-door health survey of six neighborhoods in the City of New Haven was directed by CARE, a community-academic partnership based at the Yale University School of Public Health. With support from The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and other funders, New Haven's neighborhood associations and the Lower Naugatuck River Valley Region each conducted quality of life surveys in 2010. The Valley Region includes the towns of Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Derby, Oxford, Seymour, and Shelton, Connecticut. In 2012, CARE, along with Yale-New Haven Hospital, the City of New Haven, DataHaven, and other institutions formed a partnership to repeat the 2009 health survey in the same six neighborhoods. In partnership with these and other organizations, DataHaven secured funding in order to launch its parallel Community Wellbeing Survey that will cover the broader Greater New Haven area. As a result, the Community Wellbeing Survey will produce citywide and regional comparison data for the CARE effort, in addition to allowing a deeper understanding of community wellbeing.

The Community Wellbeing Survey will be conducted with the help of Siena Research Institute at Siena College in Loudonville, New York. Randomly-selected households will be interviewed by cell phone and landline in order to gather data that are representative of geographical areas and major population groups. All responses are strictly confidential and anonymous. They will only be released in the aggregate, and will not be identifable with any specific person. 

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