From the Opportunity Agenda newsletter

The Opportunity Agenda, in collaboration with the Health Policy Institute at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, has released a body of research that explores best practices for integrating maps into health advocacy. The volume, Using Maps to Promote Health Equity, provides research and case studies, while presenting key strategies for effective use and overcoming technical hurdles.

Pulling from some of the brightest and most innovative scholars and practitioners in the field of mapping and health advocacy, the volume presents eight chapters and an executive summary that helps focus advocates on how this mapping can be a vehicle for change. Recent advancements in web-based mapping have grown extensively, thanks to the integration of web tools like Google Earth and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which allow access to, and plotting of, complex sets of data.

The volume goes beyond the technical foundation, providing additional insight into social engagement of communities and the media, bridging the art and science of mapping at the intersection of health advocacy. Readers not only learn how maps can bring life to complex data, but also how data, when mapped effectively, can show us the path for a better life for the millions of Americans who are exposed to unequal health factors every day.

For over 150 years, since British physician John Snow published his London maps that isolated the cholera pandemic of 1853, maps have helped us gain a greater understanding of the world around us, as it relates to social and health inequities. Projects like and Not Just a Number have stayed on the forefront of interactive mapping, bringing a sense of community and activism around what would otherwise be a static image on a page. Their model, in addition to the many other case studies shared throughout this compendium, demonstrates how new media and maps can act as a powerful tool for health advocacy.

Drawing from its findings, this series of papers offers guidance for all those advocating for social justice and the public interest. Taking direction from leading voices across a broad range of issues, the authors used health equity as a frame to hallmark just how powerful maps can be toward breaking down barriers on the road to opportunity.

The executive summary and full report is available at For a print copy of the summary and a CD-ROM which includes the entire volume of research, contact Tony Stephens at

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 11th, 2009 at 8:42 am and is filed under Resources. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.