Over the past year, the Applied Population Laboratory has been very engaged in a wide range of research and outreach activities that exemplify our approach to applied demography. APL research staff made important contributions to construction of sophisticated community information systems, development of new tools and models for analysis of population and public health research and practice, regional social and economic analysis, and improving techniques used for population estimates and forecasts.
On the outreach front, the 2010 Census brought many exciting opportunities for APL staff to be involved in educating Wisconsin communities on the importance of getting an accurate census count. In addition, staff presented research on the history of immigration in Wisconsin as a way to provide perspective on a potentially contentious issue and played a role in helping the public grapple with the changes that recent immigration from Mexico and other countries is having on rural communities in Wisconsin.
The last several years have seen rapid growth and increased visibility of the APL’s research and work in the area of geography and health. We have developed techniques and methodologies for using geographic information systems approaches and tools for analysis, visualization, and presentation of health related data and research. In collaboration with researchers in the UW Department of Family Medicine and practitioners with Madison/Dane County Public health, the APL has used spatial analytical methods to combine patient data and contextual data to examine health disparities, incidence and distribution of disease and patient populations. The APL has further developed ways to connect qualitative or community data to these health data.
Currently, the APL is partnering with Public Health Madison/Dane County in a comprehensive study of African American Infant Mortality disparities between Dane and Racine Counties. The initiative involves the APL providing expertise in community engaged geographic information to facilitate the capture of place based local information. Building upon the phenomenon of Volunteered Geographic Information, APL researchers are enabling Public Health to understand the hyper-local health landscape and begin to understand the qualitative differences that exist between the two counties that may impact infant mortality.