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Orange County launches OC Equity Map to address inequality and resource disparities

Orange County is taking a data-driven approach to addressing inequality and resource disparities. On July 14, the County will launch a new mapping tool that monitors Orange County’s health and social gaps.

“COVID-19 has exacerbated several health and social inequities, which many municipalities and local organizations were unprepared to meet at the height of the pandemic,” explains Supervisor Andrew Do, Chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. “Our OC Equity Map tool will provide actionable benchmarks to allocate resources and reduce disparities in our communities.”

In May 2020, the COVID-19 Testing Ad-Hoc Committee, led by Chairman Andrew Do and Vice Chairman Doug Chaffee, directed the Orange County Health Care Agency (HCA) to develop the OC Equity Map (OCEM) tool. The purpose of the initiative was to develop a data platform that informs Orange County leaders, public/private entities, and residents in the most impacted regions about the increasing risk of COVID-19.

“The OC Equity Map measures our progress that we have made as a community with the goal to improve the quality of life for every resident of Orange County,” said Vice Chairman Doug Chaffee, Fourth District. “We thank the OC Health Care Agency and Advance OC for launching the OCEM and giving us a powerful tool to reach the goals of creating a more equitable and healthy society.”

To help the HCA identify the root causes of emerging disparities in Orange County that have come to light from the pandemic, the Board of Supervisors approved an agreement with Advance OC in July 2020, tasking the non-profit to develop Orange County’s Social Progress Imperative Equity Map to capture population outcome data in three broad dimensions: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity.

“This depth of data will help create a roadmap for private and public partnerships to collectively address complex social circumstances at the root of inequities in health and well-being. The platform also supports the OC Health Care Agency’s mission to work collaboratively with the community to deliver sustainable and responsive services that promote population health and equity,” stated Dr. Clayton Chau, HCA Agency Director and County Health Officer.

Under Phase I, Advanced OC utilized 2010 Census datasets to visually present Orange County’s status of social progress. A launch event will take place on July 14 at Mile Square Park for elected officials, city officials, commissioners, community-based organizations, and other stakeholders from the public. Phase II will utilize 2020 Census data and will be sponsored by the private sector.

The County will provide access to the OCEM platform to the public at no-cost and will allow users to measure, track, and map inequities in the community with neighborhood precision, including identifying root causes, understanding social determinants, and informing strategies to advance the health and wellbeing of Orange County residents.

“AdvanceOC is honored to be working with the County of Orange and the HCA on this important initiative. We are proud to present this tool to the community to advance data-driven, equity-oriented strategies that tackle social and health disparities. Our partnership with the HCA highlights how data science can help organizations achieve greater impact. We hope to see more collaboration in the community and are excited that this tool can help facilitate important conversations around equity,” said Katie Kalvoda, President & Board Chair, AdvanceOC.

To test and explore this new analytic capability, HCA has been utilizing the OCEM platform in its COVID-19 responses, including testing, vaccine allocation and distribution, and other mitigation strategies. The platform also provides a roadmap for private and public partnerships to fund initiatives that seek collaborative approaches to addressing complex social circumstances at the root of inequities in health and well-being.

This article was released by the OC Health Care Agency.