Data tell a story. Data analysis allows you to understand that story and share it with others. It allows you to drive attention and action to the areas of greatest need in your community.
Go back to the questions you generated about your community. How do the data you’ve collected answer those questions?
Pick comparisons. It can be difficult to understand your community’s data without context. Comparing your community’s values to the data from other communities can help. Most assessments include comparisons to:
- Other similar or nearby communities, or
- State or nation values, or
- Your community’s past values
Examine the trends. Look at five or more years of data to detect trends in your community.
- Use a graph to visualize your trends.
- Quantify your trends. You can approximate your county’s trend and its differences from the state and nation, by calculating the percent change over time. Our Trend Analysis page provides more technical guidance for examing trends over time. Interpreting Trend Graphs provides additional guidance for interpreting trend graphs.
You may want to connect with data analysis experts to better understand how you move your data to action. People who have this type of expertise are often found in public health departments, local colleges or universities, or consultant groups.