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500 Cities Webinar

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will be hosting an informational webinar on the 500 Cities Project on June 30, 2016 from 2:00 – 3:00 pm Eastern. Please click this link: https://cc.readytalk.com/registration/#/?meeting=a298ov9hrivb&campaign=obq0cas9qzy4 to register for the webinar.

Project Purpose

  • This project will identify, analyze, and report city and census tract-level data, obtained using small area estimation methods, for 27 disease measures for the 500 largest American cities.
  • The data will be available by summer 2017 through a public, interactive “500 Cities” website that will allow users to view, explore, and download city- and tract-level data.
  • Although limited data are available at the county and metropolitan levels, this project represents a first-of-its kind data analysis to release information on a large scale for cities and for small areas within cities. This system would complement existing surveillance data necessary to more fully understand the health issues affecting the residents of that city or census tract.
  • These high-quality, small-area epidemiologic data can be used both by individual cities and groups of cities as well as other stakeholders to help develop and implement effective and targeted prevention activities; identify emerging health problems; and establish and monitor key health objectives. For example, city planners and elected officials may want to use this data to target neighborhoods for effective interventions.


  • The 27 measures include 5 unhealthy behaviors, 13 health outcomes, and 9 prevention practices.
  • The measures include major risk behaviors that lead to illness, suffering, and early death related to chronic diseases and conditions, as well as the conditions and diseases that are the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems.
  • Each measure will have a comprehensive definition that includes the background, significance, limitations of the indicator, data source, and limitations of the data resources.

Unique Value of the 500 Cities Project

  • The 500 Cities Project reflects innovations in generating valid small-area estimates for population health.
  • It provides data for cities, many of which cover multiple counties or do not follow county boundaries, and for census tracts for the first time. These data will be filterable (by city and/or tracts; as well as by measure) and downloadable for use in separate analyses by the end-users.
  • The project will enable retrieval, visualization, and exploration of a uniformly- defined selected city and tract-level data for the largest 500 US cities for conditions, behaviors, and risk factors that have a substantial effect on population health.

The project will deliver data for the 497 largest American cities and will include data from the largest cities in Vermont (Burlington – population: 42,417), West Virginia (Charleston – population: 51,400) and Wyoming (Cheyenne – population: 59,466) to ensure inclusion of cities from all the states; bringing the total to 500 cities. The cities range in population from 42,417 in Burlington, Vermont to 8,175,133 in New York City, New York. Among these 500 cities, there are approximately 28,000 census tracts, for which data will be provided. The tracts range in population from less than 50 to 28,960, and in size from less than 1 square mile to more than 642 square miles. The number of tracts per city ranges from 8 to 2,140. The project includes a total population of 103,020,808.