Data, and the insights it can reveal, are the basis of a Smarter Planet. Ottawa, Canada’s capital and one of the largest cities in the country, has been the focus of a pioneering project taking an in-depth look at how we live and where we live, with intelligence from the data that could improve the quality of life for its citizens.
The United Way’s Ottawa Neighbourhood Study (ONS), a partnership between United Way Ottawa and five other organizations, has gathered and compiled one of the world’s most comprehensive databases which details how where a person lives impacts their health and well-being. In July 2011, IBM awarded a Centennial Grant to United Way Ottawa to take ONS to the next level.
“A person’s capacity to actualize their dreams depends first on meeting their basic needs but also on growing capacity for good health, a sense of well-being, cultural competence and a rewarding connection with their community,” says Karen Williams, IBM Vice President of Business Analytics Customer Success and Support, who applied for the grant on behalf of United Way Ottawa.
The ONS has collected and analyzed 146 indicators of health and well-being, creating 91 neighborhood profiles throughout the city that allow policy developers, program planners, community organizers, service providers and other decision makers to better understand those neighborhoods.
One ONS partner agency, Champlain Local Health Integration Network, has used the database to identify communities most susceptible to influenza, enabling the most vulnerable communities to receive access to immunization programs first. ONS also was used to identify neighborhoods that most lacked recreational programming investments so funds could be appropriated to build ice rinks in those areas. ONS will track the long-term impact of those investments.