Celebrating 10 Years of the Tracking Network!
CDC launched the Environmental Public Health Tracking Network (Tracking Network) in July 2009. Since then, it has expanded and evolved to include over 20 environmental health topics with multiple data access and display options.
About the Tracking Network
The Tracking Network is an online information and visualization platform that brings together health and environmental data from national, state and local partners. Whether you are new to understanding how the environment impacts health, or even if you are a seasoned public health professional, the Tracking Network translates data into visualizations and information that are easy to understand.
Learn how the Tracking Network has made advances in the following areas over the past 10 years.
Technology is always changing, and the Tracking Network has evolved with it! The Tracking Network uses new and emerging technology to build innovative tools to make health and environmental data more accessible.
The original Data Explorer was built in a technical system that did not allow for all the capabilities we have now. As we grew, Tracking realized we needed an information platform that would make data more accessible, understandable, timely, and actionable. So in 2015, we upgraded to an HTML5 platform, allowing us to display customizable, highly interactive data visualizations. Our new, more adaptable design let us add new features, like real-time surface smoke and radar data, and advanced charting features. Be sure to check back often as we regularly add enhanced features to the Data Explorer.
If you’ve ever used a weather or real estate application, most likely the data are being pulled from the original source through an API (or application programming interface). The Tracking Network API allows developers, within Tracking or beyond, to pull any of the Tracking Network data and integrate it into new tools, like Tracking’s Enviro Health App Challenge winners.
Tracking’s Info By Location tool uses the API to present the data in a different way, in an infographic form. You can create a personalized infographic for health and environment in your county – go try it out!
Over the past 10 years, the Tracking Network has increased the availability of high quality environmental health data that is timely, accurate, local, and accessible. From 175 environmental health measures in 2009 to 497 measures in 2019, more than 2 billion rows of nationally comparable data are currently publicly available for Tracking Network users. These environmental health data can be viewed in maps, charts, tables, and interactive infographics. Offering a variety of visualization tools on the Tracking Network helps to engage diverse audiences and expand environmental health science and practice.
The Tracking Network is the only place where you can find nationally comparable data on several environmental health topics like UV radiation and radon!
In 2009, the Tracking Network included 17 funded state and local health departments and now that number has increased to 26 funded recipients. Tracking’s grant recipients contribute data and expertise to help us build a better picture of environmental health in the United States
Researchers have used Tracking Network data to add to our understanding of the relationships between health and the environment. Three of the most recent publications are listed below.
Collaboration: Tracking uses NASA data to better understand UV exposure. Click for details.
Study: Air pollution increases emergency department visits for breathing problems. Click for details.
The Tracking Network is more than just data, it’s also a network of people who use Tracking for public health change.
Tracking data and activities have informed over 500 public health actions in communities across the country.
Tracking data are used in all sorts of ways from routine analyses to more involved epidemiological studies. Recently, Tracking has started a partnership with academia to improve and standardize the process of analyzing data routinely. Routine data analyses can be used by states to identify, and maybe even predict, patterns of environmental health issues in their communities. Standardizing a routine data analysis framework presents an opportunity for the Tracking Program to be more efficient at evaluating data quality, better at recognizing environmental health patterns, and more proactive as a partner in data sharing processes. In addition to routine analysis, Tracking data are also being used to support epidemiological studies, inform policy, and target prevention to areas most at risk. Together, these types of analyses can be used to inform data-driven decisions that reduce the burden of environmentally related health conditions across the country.
If you’ve used Tracking data to inform a policy decision, or enact any other public health change, let us know!
Explore Tracking’s decade of success:
Faces of Tracking, a photo series featuring people like Kelly who used Tracking data to secure a grant for the revitalization of an old elementary school site for a new community park.
Tracking in action, a video series on how state and local health departments use Tracking to improve public health.
Success Stories: See how Tracking is informing policy, identifying communities at risk, targeting public health prevention work, and more.