Community Design

At a glance

Public health problems in the United States, such as obesity, physical inactivity, and breathing and heart problems related to air pollution are all influenced by the design of our communities. Designing communities that encourage healthy choices is critical to improving the health and quality of life of community members.

Family enjoying a picnic in a park.

We Track That

The health and safety of a community are influenced by many factors. The location of parks and schools can affect activity levels, time spent outdoors, obesity rates, and chronic diseases. Exposure to traffic-related air pollution can affect people with breathing problems or cardiovascular diseases.

The Tracking Network contains information about several community design elements. They were selected because of their relationship to some of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. These causes include injuries, heart disease, diabetes, and asthma.

Types of Data

The community design data on the Tracking Network describe access to places where people can participate in physical activity. The data also help estimate exposure to traffic-related pollution.

This "Access to Parks and Schools" indicator estimates the number and percentage of people living within a half mile of a park or a public school.A

This indicator displays the number and percent of public schools located within 150m of a highway. It also displays the number of people and percentage of a population living withing 150m of a highway.B

Access the Data

Use the Data Explorer to create custom maps, tables, and charts.

View data in simple Quick Reports.

Get machine-readable data from the Application Program Interface (API).

Data in Action

These community design data can be used for the following actions.

  • Understanding the public health impacts related to access to parks and schools
  • Informing decisions when planning locations of new parks or schools
  • Assessing linkages between proximity to highway and health outcomes
  • Estimating population exposure to traffic-related pollutants
  1. These data are supplied by the National Center for Educational Statistics; Navteq, 2010, Quarter 3, “LANDUSEA” layer for parks; and the U.S. Census (2020).
  2. These data are supplied by Geospatial Research, Analysis and Services Program (GRASP); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (CDC/ATSDR).