Using SparkMap for Community Assessments

Capture the assets and needs in your community to identify cross-cutting priorities. Access a variety of indicators from SparkMap to tackle broad assessment of all aspects of community, such as economy, environment, health, and housing. A community assessment is the foundation for needs-based prioritization and decision-making.

Community assessment is a process of collecting and reviewing data related to community well-being and health to identify areas of greatest need. Hospitals, public health departments, and health-related organizations are often required to complete an assessment on an annual or semi-annual basis. Being able to understand community demographics, health trends, and areas of opportunity allow not only for more informed policy making, but also allow prioritization of limited community resources.  

In addition to utilizing available data for resource prioritization, data found in a community assessment can also be used to show areas where increased levels of partnership or participation across sectors may be needed. Community assessments should display data that promotes exploration, analysis, and utilization.  

Challenge: Access to Local Data

SparkMap uses the latest data from over 100 trusted sources – all in one place. Our data is available for a variety of geographic settings including county level, census tract and block, and ZIP Code, allowing you to drill down to how YOU define community.

** Census-level data is available for download SparkMap with a subscription.

Challenge: Demonstrating a Shared Responsibility

Deploying over 250 indicators, SparkMap displays cross-sector data and identifies areas where indicators may overlap and require additional resources. For example, SparkMap utilizes a social vulnerability index that demonstrates the degree to which a community exhibits certain social conditions, like high poverty, low percentage of vehicle access, or crowded households, that may affect that community’s ability to prevent human suffering and financial loss in the event of a disaster. 

** Click here for a complete list of additional indicators available at each subscription level.

FAQ: What is the difference between a CNA and a CHNA?

The terms Community Needs Assessment (CNA) and Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) are often used interchangeably. According to the CDC:

A community health assessment (sometimes called a CHA), also known as community health needs assessment (sometimes called a CHNA), refers to a state, tribal, local, or territorial health assessment that identifies key health needs and issues through systematic, comprehensive data collection and analysis

While CHNAs and CNAs both “help identify pressing community health needs and issues through a systematic and comprehensive analysis of local data” (from the Georgia Health Policy Center), the use of the terms varies by context. The term CHNA is generally used by hospitals, hospital systems, and health systems, and refers to a specific Affordable Health Care Act mandate. The ACA requires nonprofit hospital organizations to conduct CHNAs every three years for tax exemption purposes and adopt an implementation strategy to meet the needs identified during the CHNA (IRS CHNA Notice).

The term CNA is generally used by public health departments, head start programs and community development leaders, often for accreditation. CNAs tend to be conducted every one to five years and are often part of a Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). They’re also a major part of the accreditation process set forth by the Public Health Accreditation Board.

With our data and tools, available for a variety of geographies, SparkMap is a prime part of many stakeholders’ CHNA and CNA processes. Our easy-to-access secondary data and tools for primary data analysis provide the resources our clients need for a robust community assessment.