The goal of Healthy Community Planning NJ (HCP-NJ) is to create municipal-level awareness of specific environmental and health issues to support data-driven local decision making to improve health and safety. The HCP-NJ website provides individual health and environmental reports for each of New Jersey’s municipalities which feature municipal-level data on 33 separate environmental and health indicators, as well as relevant county and State data for those indicators for comparison. The reports also provide suggestions for how to leverage the provided data to make meaningful health and environmental improvements within a community.
Anyone can use HCP-NJ to learn about environmental public health in New Jersey’s communities. Anticipated users include planners and policy makers; environmental commissions; local health officers and elected officials; local and county health staff; interested residents; health and environmental advocacy groups; environmental justice organizations; state agencies; academics; and researchers.
HCP-NJ reports provide a snapshot of a municipality’s health and environmental data, using indicators along with county and state comparisons, to identify priority issues for planning and targeting improvements. Additional data, measures, and context are provided to help users interpret a municipality’s data along with suggested strategies to improve environmental health.
Stakeholders can use HCP-NJ to develop Community Health Assessments, Community Health Improvement Plans, Health Impact Assessments, Environmental Resource Inventories, Sustainable NJ reports, local planning activities, and ordinances. HCP-NJ can also help local officials conduct site and development proposal reviews; inform discussions between environmental commissioners, planning/zoning boards, community collaborative efforts; and assist with public education and targeted community outreach.
Environmental and health indicators were chosen by considering where both relevant data at a municipal level were available and where actions could make meaningful improvements. In addition, HCP-NJ indicators provide information requested in the past by NJ researchers, policy makers, and environmental and health officials.
An indicator is a quantifiable measure that indicates the status or condition of a topic area for a defined group for a defined time interval. Indicators are often used to establish a baseline and track progress toward improvement goals.
A percentile is a statistical measure that designates a value in which a given percentage of observations in a group of observations falls. For example, the 20th percentile is the value below which 20% of the total observations fall. Percentiles should not be confused with percentages. While percentiles display position or rank; a percentage represents a proportion and is expressed as the number of a total of 100.
A confidence interval (CI) is a range which describes the variation around a statistical estimate. Confidence intervals account for uncertainty that arise from natural variation or estimation techniques and provide a way of assessing and reporting the precision of a point estimate. The wider the range of a confidence interval, the less precise the estimate. For example, a 95% CI is the range of values that you can be 95% certain will contains the true statistical value for a population.
Additional NJ municipality and county-level health data are outlined on NJDOH’s State Health Assessment Data (NJSHAD) website, https://www-doh.state.nj.us/doh-shad/resources/LHOinfo.html.
Municipal level data are available in Dataset Queries for the following datasets:
Yes. We encourage HCP-NJ users to contact us at HCP-NJ@nj.gov with their suggestions regarding additional datasets or information that would help them with municipal planning and outreach. Additionally, HCP-NJ users are encouraged to contact us to let us know how they are using HCP-NJ in their activities.
NJDOH does not generally present health outcome counts or rates below the municipal or county level for a variety of reasons including the following: the rarity of many health outcomes; the instability and wide variation from year to year of counts and rates within small populations; and the need to protect the confidentiality of individuals. Additionally, the definition of a “neighborhood” is not standardized or uniformly defined, and therefore cannot be reliably used in measuring health outcomes. However, estimated health outcome data at finer scale are available from the City Health Dashboard for 27 large NJ municipalities, with some estimated, modeled, or smoothed data available at the census tract level.
Yes. While the HCP-NJ reports compare indicator values for one municipality to the county in which it is located and NJ overall, it is possible to compare one municipality’s age-adjusted indicator data with age-adjusted indicator data from other municipalities.
No. Online and printed versions of any HCP-NJ reports contain the same information.
HCP-NJ include data from the newest complete datasets available as of April 1, 2022, and different datasets have additional years of data released on varying schedules. Indicators with low event counts (such as drinking water standard exceedances or heat-related illnesses) need higher case counts to ensure the rate’s statistical stability, and therefore the time periods used for many indicators span multiple years. For example, the number of emergency department visits for heat-related illnesses across multiple years within most municipalities were not sufficient to provide statistically reliable estimates of the indicator.
Each dataset supporting an indicator is unique, with the datasets gathered from across the NJ Departments of Health (NJDOH) and Environmental Protection (NJDEP), as well as from federal agencies including the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Highway Administration. Datasets are therefore updated on different schedules. When there are sufficient new data, or when new indicators are identified for inclusion, the Departments of Health and Environmental Protection will update HCP-NJ.
The NJ Departments of Health and Environmental Protection will evaluate the usefulness of HCP-NJ’s content and consider opportunities for future expansion. Comments, suggestions, and HCP-NJ user stories received through HCP-NJ@nj.gov, and additional input from potential and current HCP-NJ users, will help inform HCP-NJ expansion.
The New Jersey Department of Health has responsibility for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of multiple health-related NJ datasets including births, deaths, reportable diseases, inpatient hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and utilization data for health care services and facilities. The NJDOH is also responsible for establishing and maintaining appropriate mechanisms to safeguard the confidentiality of public health data. A variety of federal and state laws, regulations, and executive orders prohibit disclosure of personal identifying information, or PII, associated with the collected health and environmental data. PII includes names, addresses, social security numbers and other information that would allow users to locate or identify specific individuals. The NJDOH and NJDEP recognize both the inherent privacy rights of individuals and the need to maintain a proper balance between individual rights and the benefits to society from providing non-confidential summary information on the health of New Jersey’s citizens. The NJDOH’s Data Release Policy addresses the safeguarding of confidential health information within the NJDOH, the circumstances under which confidential health information is released, and issues regarding the integrity and accuracy of health data. Environmental and public health information provided through HCP-NJ complies with the NJDOH Data Release Policy and NJDEP regulations. All HCP-NJ data have been summarized or suppressed as needed to prevent identification of any individual or when data are highly unstable.
Yes. The HCP-NJ website includes a glossary of terms
Development of HCP-NJ was supported in part by the New Jersey Environmental Public Health Tracking project through a Cooperative Agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HCP-NJ’s content is solely the responsibility of the NJDOH and NJDEP and does not represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.