City resource to highlight health metrics of residents in high-rise apartments

The interactive dashboard will launch in March 2020.

The Hub Apartments in Minneapolis are seen on Tuesday, Nov. 26. High rise building such as these are subject to a new online data dashboard the monitors the health of residents.

Parker Johnson

The Hub Apartments in Minneapolis are seen on Tuesday, Nov. 26. High rise building such as these are subject to a new online data dashboard the monitors the health of residents.

Taylor Schroeder

City officials are developing a new online interactive data dashboard to organize health metrics of Minneapolis high-rise residents.

The City Council passed the dashboard in the form of grant money from the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority to the City’s Health Department last week. It was approved by Mayor Jacob Frey on Monday. The project aims to better residents’ understanding of their health needs and encourage public agencies to assess areas of improvement. With the grant money, totaling $13,260, the Minneapolis Health Department plans to provide an intern to assist with the project. 

“We really want [the high-rise residents’] voices to be the ones front and center,” said Mageen Caines, a public health data scientist at MHD. “The story is really about how the residents are using data that is their own, that we have collected on their behalf essentially, and empowering them to continue their advocacy and community engagement work.”

The dashboard will include data from 42 high-rises and over 5,000 residents under MPHA jurisdiction, said Kelly Zelkenka, assistant director of human services at MPHA. MPHA is collaborating with the Minneapolis Highrise Representative Council, a non-profit, to gain input from high-rise residents.

Modeled after Seattle and King County’s housing authorities’ online health profile, MPHA and MHD documents data such as rates of heart disease, emergency room visits and the number of times older residents fall. 

“The data has already been collected by the city, the state of Minnesota and MPHA. We will combine that to create a picture of what is happening in our public housing,” said Luisa Pessoa-Brandão, manager of research and evaluation at MHD. 

The agencies utilize government vital statistics on causes of death, data collected from 911 calls and medical claims data. Other requests made by MHRC, such as the number of high-rises with community gardens, will be supplied by residents. 

In addition to serving residents’ interests, the information collected will help MPHA and MHD determine public needs and connect residents to proper resources.

“We talk to residents directly to see what their lived experience is, what they’re managing well and where they might need support,” Zelkenka said. “At a bigger level, how can we understand what the community needs might be? … This is where our partnership with the Health Department comes in.”  

Although the grant was approved this week, the work for the dashboard is already underway. An initial iteration of the project is set to launch in March 2020.

“The grant passing through City Council is essentially this partnership [between MPHA, MDH and MHRC] in writing,” Pessoa-Brandão said. “We’re hoping to have something — that may not be the final product because we may continue to add to it — but that is usable by the end of March.”