The Informed Alaskans Initiative
Informed Alaskans is a data visualization initiative to make state, regional, and community health data readily accessible to individuals, health organizations, health providers, and policy makers. Employing a combination of descriptive profiles matched by a suite of maps, tables, and charts, health data are available using an intuitive, informative, and interactive interface. Visual indicators of color, size, location, and direction augment numerical and categorical data to help understand health risks, disparities, and disease prevalence in Alaska. Users have access to health information organized within a manageable framework. As Alaskans differ in their abilities and preferences for comprehending data, all information is available in both graphic and text formats.
There are two essential elements in the Informed Alaskans initiative. The primary element, which will be available Summer of 2013, will be a database and query system entitled the Alaska Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health (IBIS-PH, or AK-IBIS for short) to provide context to health data. IBIS-PH is a web-based application whose development by the Utah Department of Health was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The secondary element, released in June 2012, is the InstantAtlas™ geographic information system produced by GeoWise.
Informed Alaskans is a mnemonic device for remembering IA, where the "I" stands for IBIS and the "A" for the atlas aspect of InstantAtlas. Together, AK-IBIS and InstantAtlas will provide unprecedented access to Alaskan health data.
Those in a hurry to access the health maps can follow these three steps:
- Click on the bolded Maps item under BRFSS in the left-hand navigation window;
- Under Single Map, select either Crude Rates (for population prevalence) or Age-Adjusted Rates (for comparisons) of one of the four geographic systems (public health regions, metro/micropolitan statistical areas, boroughs/census areas, or tribal health regions); and
- Click on the SELECT INDICATOR AND RACE button in the presentation to choose first among health themes and then individual indicators for total, Alaska Native, or whites only.
The suggested use of the health maps portion of Informed Alaskans includes:
- STEP 1: Start by selecting the data source (either BRFSS or Reportable Conditions);
- STEP 2: become familiar with the surveillance system by reading the background documentation;
- STEP 3: review the themes to learn which health indicators are available and how they are organized;
- STEP 4: select the map or HTML Profile version on which to display results; and
- STEP 5: choose whether to display age-adjusted or crude rates, when available.
This version of InstantAtlas presentations contains:
- An increased number of health indicators (172) and years (21);
- Uses raking weights from 2007 onward to better adjust for race and socio-economic status of respondents using current Alaska bridged race population estimates (see description).
- Results by major racial groupings of white and Alaska Native in addition to all adults (18+).
- Use of three-year averages over up to six year to increase health indicators available for boroughs/census areas and tribal health regions.
- Special maps of major influences on health (e.g., disability, age (65+), and the 125% federal poverty guidelines).
All of the HTML background pages possess a navigation window in the left portion of the screen. Reviewing the contents of the navigation window during your initial visit will be extremely useful in learning the capabilities inherent in the InstantAtlas data visualizaton presentations. The contents are as follows:
Informed Alaskans - Alaska Health Profiles
- Home - Current page (also present on navigation bar of presentations)
- Guide - Alaska InstantAtlas Users' Guide
- Help - How to contact developers and subject matter experts for assistance, accessibility objectives, training materials, and links to training videos (also present on navigation bar)
- Contacts - Contact information for assistance and accessibility requests
BRFSS - Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
- Background - BRFSS Background, crude versus age-adjusted rates, data suppression and statistical unreliability, geographic systems, BRFSS variables, and display options
- Data Files - Comma-separated values and Excel data file options (also present on navigation bar)
- Geography - Description of the four available geographic systems used to subdivide Alaska
- Maps - List of all maps by presentation formats [useful to bookmark] (also present on navigation bar)
- Public Health Regions - Division of Alaska into six administrative regions with single-year data
- Metro/Micropolitan Statistical Areas - Anchorage Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) (Municipality of Anchorage and Matanuska-Susitna Borough), Fairbanks MSA, (Fairbanks North Star Borough), three micropolitan statistical areas (Kodiak Island Borough, City and Borough of Juneau, and Ketchikan Gateway Borough), and a remainder category of the state outside of metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas that can be defined as rural with single-year data
- Boroughs/Census Areas - The 18 boroughs and 11 unorganized areas of Alaska according to post-2008 United States Bureau of the Census designations with three-year averages
- Tribal Health Regions - The 12 tribal health regions defined by the Alaska Native Epidemiology Center with three-year averages
- Themes - Lists all of the health indicators organized by themes for ease of location when using the Select Risk Factor button on the presentations
- HTML Profiles - A text, accessible version of the health information presented in InstantAtlas presentations
Citing Informed Alaskans - Alaska Health Profiles
Author. Organization/publisher. Webpage title. Website title. Date published/revised. Available at URL, Accessed date.
Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Center for Health Data and Statistics. BRFSS: Tribal Health Regions Area Profile - Crude Rates | Informed Alaskans, Center for Health Data and Statistics, Division of Public Health | Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. Informed Alaskans - BRFSS. n.d. Available at http://www.hss.state.ak.us/instantatlas/brfss/ap-sc/cr/thr/atlas.htm?select=12&indicator=I184, Accessed 21 June 2012.
Training is available to individuals and organizations by contacting IBIS-PH@Alaska.gov or calling (907) 269-8030.