Using Data to Identify and Prioritize the Most Vulnerable

The Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) is a resource that can be used by public agencies to identify parts of a community that are most in need of investment.

2 minute read

December 13, 2022, 6:00 AM PST

By clementkhlau

Screeenshot of Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) tool from CDC

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (CDC/ATSDR) / Social Vulnerability Index (SVI)

The Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) is a resource provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (CDC/ATSDR). The SVI measures social vulnerability which is defined by CDC/ATSDR as the potential negative effects on communities caused by external stresses on human health. 

The SVI is a valuable tool to identify communities that will most likely need support before, during and after a public health emergency. It uses 16 U.S. census variables to help local officials identify communities that may need support before, during, or after disasters. More broadly, SVI is an indicator of which areas of a community are considered “at risk” and most in need of investment to reduce vulnerability and increase overall health. 

In this blog post, Austin Barrett of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) highlights the SVI as a tool that can be used to help park and recreation agencies with their decision-making regarding future capital and operational investments.  The SVI is one of the resources featured in NRPA's recently created Data and Mapping Resource Library which was previously discussed in in this article.

The use of vulnerability indicators is becoming more widespread as public agencies seek to identify and prioritize the most vulnerable areas and populations for planning, services, programs, and capital investments. For example, the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) recently completed the Parks Needs Assessment Plus (PNA+) which uses indicators from the Healthy Places Index (HPI) and other data to identify where the most vulnerable residents are concentrated and determine which areas should be prioritized for conservation and restoration as well as regional and rural recreation.

Thursday, December 1, 2022 in National Recreation and Park Association Open Space Blog

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