About Somos Neighbors
Where we live plays a role in how long we live, and average life expectancy in Bexar County’s longest-lived neighborhoods is 18 years higher than in our shortest-lived neighborhoods. Somos Neighbors shows us how other neighborhoods are both like ours and different, helping us unite as neighbors to close that 18-year gap.
In partnership with the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Somos Neighbors is one of 10 projects nationwide selected through the Visualizing and Powering Healthy Lives opportunity to use USALEEP local life expectancy data to explore and address neighborhood-level life expectancy disparities. The 10 projects are intended as case studies for other communities interested in using the USALEEP data to understand and address place-based inequities in life expectancy. To learn more about the 9 other projects selected for Visualizing and Powering Healthy Lives, please visit www.puttinglocaldatatowork.org.
We welcome partnership with other San Antonio-area organizations committed to bringing people together and to closing the life expectancy gap! If you’d like to learn more about the project or talk about how we can collaborate, please contact us!
Media support: download the Somos Neighbors Media Packet
Create a Somos Neighbors in your own community
CI:Now hopes that other communities will adapt Somos Neighbors to fit their local needs and conditions. We encourage others’ use of Somos Neighbors and only ask that you not alter any images or information from this website without written permission. We would also be grateful to learn how you are using Somos Neighbors and what effects you’ve seen.
CI:Now has developed a guide that should be of help to anyone seeking to understand how Somos Neighbors works or to create a similar tool in their own community. The Somos Neighbors Toolkit includes the following resources:
- data dictionary
- link to GitHub repository for code and documentation
- an Approach and Methods document with information about the census tract matching algorithm and method, indicator calculation and selection, website functionality and open-source technologies used, and strategies to maximize data tool use and sustainability
- English- and Spanish-language promotional materials
- link to launch event video, including keynote address by Tonika Lewis Johnson, creator of the Folded Map project
- media packet
Download the Somos Neighbors Toolkit [zip file]
Data sources and documentation
The core of this project is the United States Small-Area Life Expectancy Estimates Project (USALEEP) dataset. USALEEP is the first public health outcome measure available nationwide at the census tract level, measuring life expectancy at birth for nearly every census tract in the country. A joint effort of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS), and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), USALEEP data provide unparalleled insights into community health and demonstrate that not everyone has the same opportunity to be healthy where they live.
As of launch, all other data sources used in Somos Neighbors are publicly available at no cost from the original source and/or an intermediary. The Somos Neighbors Data Dictionary contains definitions, sources, and links for all Somos Neighbors indicators used in the neighborhood matching tool. Please refer to the data source’s own documentation for answers to questions about how the data were collected, analyzed, or interpreted. Much more information about data analysis methods, the census tract matching algorithm, and geocoding and mapping procedures is available in the Somos Neighbors Toolkit linked above.
This project is based upon work supported by the Urban Institute through funds provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. We thank them for their support but acknowledge that the findings and conclusions presented here are those of CI:Now alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Urban Institute or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Somos Neighbors was partly inspired by the acclaimed Folded Map project in Chicago, a creation of social justice artist and photographer Tonika Lewis Johnson. We encourage anyone interested in Somos Neighbors to learn about and support the Folded Map project. Our sincerest thanks go to Ms. Johnson for her generosity of spirit and her support of our work to bring neighbors together around social and economic segregation and the inequities among neighborhoods and the people who live there.
Our thanks go also to Joe Moran and Tribu for their assistance with web development, design, and communications; and to Bekah S. McNeel for her ‘Featured Stories’ work. Finally, many thanks to The Health Collaborative for their partnership on this project and many others over the years.
Community Information Now (CI:Now) is a nonprofit local data intermediary. Our vision is improved lives and decreased disparities through democratized data. Founded more than 20 years ago, CI:Now provides data, analysis, training, and tools to help Texas communities make decisions that are informed by good data. As part of a community-academic partnership begun in 2008, CI:Now’s core data team is housed at the UTHealth Houston School of Public Health in San Antonio. We’ve been a member of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP) since 2010.