DASH Data Guide

The data in this guide has been assembled and made available for public use as part of the Allegheny County Data Across Sectors for Health (DASH) project. This local DASH project is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as part of their national initiative aiming to develop, implement, and evaluate multi-sector data sharing projects addressing a range of public health challenges. As part of this collaboration the Allegheny County Health Department has collected social determinants data from multiple sources in an attempt to improve the cardiovascular health of 1.2 million residents in the county. This data available through DASH not only relates to cardiovascular disease, but a wide variety of issues impacting public health, including human services, economic development, healthcare, and transportation. The lead agency for the DASH project, the Allegheny County Health Department and project partners have agreed to share these datasets publicly as open data. Community members and organizations are free use this data in a number of ways, including supporting the development of personal and organizational projects, conducting research, and fundraising.

Beyond making information more available and accessible, The Health Department and project partners are using these datasets to create a predictive model of cardiovascular disease in Allegheny County. The Public Health Dynamics Laboratory from the University of Pittsburgh has developed the Framework for Reconstructing Epidemic Dynamics (FRED) predictive model to predict infectious disease. FRED has now been modified to model chronic disease throughout the county and predict the effectiveness of possible interventions through the DASH project. Intervention plans will then be developed and information disseminated by the project partners, who are part of the larger Health Department advisory coalition comprised of over 75 partner organizations. The Health Department would like to thank all the DASH partners who have provided the majority of the data for this project, contributed technical expertise, given local and industry perspectives, and made the sharing of this data possible.

Indicator Selection Process

The datasets provided in this Data Across Sectors for Health (DASH) data guide can provide supporting research to address a range of public health challenges. A dataset added to the DASH data warehouse if it has a potential connection to Cardiovascular Disease (CVD). Cardiovascular disease was chosen as the topic of research for this project because it is the leading cause of death in Allegheny County. This topic was also chosen due to the disparities that persist by race and gender in the County.

Determining what topics and measurements may predict or have a connection to cardiovascular disease was a two step process spanning a six month period from January to July, 2016. The initial list of risk variables was compiled by staff working at Allegheny County’s Department of Human Services and Health Department. These staff relied on research to identify six major contributors to heart disease, which include obesity, physical inactivity, tobacco use, abnormal blood lipid levels, hypertension, and type II diabetes. Staff involved in the selection process used these risk factors to identify candidate datasets, excluding data lacking a proxy for measurement and data that was not accessible or reliable.

When the initial list of desired datasets was created, the DASH project was in the process of holding its first monthly meetings with project stakeholders. At the monthly meetings the candidate datasets and selection justification was presented to the project stakeholders. Their feedback on this information shaped the final selection of measures. The stakeholders led the project team to include data describing several more important factors risk factors such as stress proxy and food security indicators. Once finalized, the Allegheny County Health Department began to collect data appearing in this guide from many different sources.

Dataset-specific guides

Anxiety and Depression Medication

DASH Guide:Anxiety Medication

These datasets described here provide de-identified diagnosis data for customers (medicare, medicaid, individual, and corporate) of three managed care organizations in Allegheny County (Gateway Health Plan, Highmark Health, and UPMC) that have filed a claim for anxiety or depression medications in 2015. The data also includes the number of enrolled members in the three participating managed care organizations in 2015.

The anxiety and depression datasets were requested after the initial data list had been collected because members of the DASH Partnership wanted to explore the relationship between anxiety and depression with cardiovascular disease following receipt of the cardiovascular disease data. There is evidence that depression is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.[1]

Cardiovascular Disease Co-Morbidity

DASH Guide:Cardiovascular Disease Co-morbidity

These datasets provide de-identified co-morbidity diagnosis data for diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia. The data is provided by three managed care organizations in Allegheny County (Gateway Health Plan, Highmark Health, and UPMC) and represents their insured population (medicare, medicaid, individual, and corporate) for the 2015 calendar year. This data will soon be available as open data through the Regional Data Center

Clean indoor Act Exemptions

DASH Guide:Clean Indoor Act Exemptions

List and location of all the businesses and social clubs who have received an exemption from the Pennsylvania Clean Indoor Air Act.

Diabetes Hospitalizations

DASH Guide:Diabetes Hospitalization

This data includes the number of people hospitalized with diabetes between 2013-2015, by age group, for Allegheny County Zip Codes. The information was produced by Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) for 2013-2015.

Environmental Justice Areas

DASH Guide:Environmental Justice Areas

Environmental Justice areas in this guide have been defined by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The Department defines an environmental justice area as any census tract where at least 20 percent of the population lives in poverty, and/or 30 percent or more of the population is minority.

Fast Food Establishments

DASH Guide:Fast Food Establishments

The Allegheny County Health Department has generated this list of fast food restaurants by exporting all chain restaurants without an alcohol permit from the County’s Fee and Permit System.


DASH Guide:Greenways

Greenway data was compiled by the Allegheny Land Trust as a planning effort in the development of Allegheny Places, the Allegheny County Comprehensive Plan. The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources defines a greenway as "A corridor of open space." Greenways vary greatly in size, may include public and private property, and can include land and water areas.

Health Care Facilities

DASH Guide:Health Care Facility

The data on health care facilities includes the name and location of all the hospitals and primary care facilities in Allegheny County. The current listing of hospitals and primary care facilities is managed by the Allegheny County Health Department and is used in internal reporting and shared for public use.

Home Ownership

DASH Guide:Home Ownership

Home ownership provides a number of financial, social, and health benefits to American families. Especially in areas with housing price appreciation, home ownership is a wealth building mechanism and home owners are also eligible to receive substantial federal and local tax benefits. Owning a home also provides families with increased residential stability, which can translate into improved school performance for children. The financial stake owners have in their neighborhood also is viewed as something that spurs them to become more-engaged in their community, and there is some research that has found that home ownership also can translate to improved health.


DASH Guide:Homicides

Homicide data was provided by the Allegheny Department of Human Services for the years 2002-2014. Human Services received the original data from the Allegheny County Medical Examiner.

Hypertension Hospitalization

DASH Guide:Hypertension Hospitalization

This data provides hypertension prevalence data for each Zip Code in Allegheny County. The information was produced by Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) for 2013-2015.

Illegal Dump Sites

DASH Guide:Illegal Dump Sites

The Illegal Dump Site dataset includes information on illegal dumpsites, their type of trash, and the estimate tons of trash at each site. The information was provided by Allegheny Cleanways, and collected as part of a 2005 survey in Allegheny County.

Median Age at Death

DASH Guide:Median Age at Death

The median age at death is calculated for each municipality in Allegheny County for 2011-2015. Data is based on the decedent's residence at the time of death, not the location where the death occurred.

Obesity Rates

DASH Guide:Obesity Rates

Obesity estimates for each Census Tract in Allegheny County were produced for the study “Developing small-area predictions for smoking and obesity prevalence in the United States.” The data is not explicitly based on population surveys or data collection conducted in Allegheny County, but rather estimated using statistical modeling techniques.

Older Housing (Built Before 1950)

DASH Guide:Older Housing (Built Before 1950)

Older housing can impact the quality of the occupant's health in a number of ways, including lead exposure, housing quality, and factors that may exacerbate respiratory conditions, including asthma.

Particulate Matter 2.5

DASH Guide:Particulate Matter 2.5

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides information on the particulate matter concentration for Allegheny County that have a diameter greater or equal to 2.5 mm. Chronic exposure to particles contributes to the risk of developing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as of lung cancer.

Poor Housing Conditions

DASH Guide:Poor Housing Conditions

This estimate of the percent of distressed housing units in each Census Tract was prepared using data from the American Community Survey and the Allegheny County Property Assessment database. The estimate was produced by the Reinvestment Fund in their work with the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development.

Smoking Rates

DASH Guide:Smoking Rates

Smoking rates estimates for each Census Tract in Allegheny County were produced for the study “Developing small-area predictions for smoking and obesity prevalence in the United States”. The data is not explicitly based on population surveys or data collection conducted in Allegheny County, but rather estimated using statistical modeling techniques.

Supermarkets and Convenience Stores

DASH Guide:Supermarkets and Convenience Stores

Location information for all Supermarkets and Convenience Stores in Allegheny County was produced using the Allegheny County Fee and Permit Data.

Tobacco Vendors

DASH Guide:Tobacco Vendors

The tobacco vendor information provides the location of all tobacco vendors in Allegheny County in 2015. Data was compiled from administrative records managed by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.

Toxics Release Inventory

DASH Guide:Toxics Release Inventory

The data provides information about toxic substances released into the environment in the United States. Annual releases are compiled and reported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and shared on the Toxics Release Inventory Website.

Traffic Counts

DASH Guide:Traffic Counts

Traffic sensors at over 1,200 locations in Allegheny County collect vehicle counts for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Data included in the DASH project includes hourly averages and average daily counts. The data was collected from years 2012-2014 and compiled by Carnegie Mellon University’s Traffic21 Institute.

Vacant Addresses

DASH Guide:Vacant Addresses

Mail carriers routinely collect data on address no longer receiving mail due to vacancy. This vacancy data is reported quarterly at census tract geographies in the United States for residential, commercial, and industrial properties along with counts of total mailing addresses. Data released through DASH has been aggregated to Allegheny County Municipalities and City Wards.

Walk Scores

DASH Guide:Walk Scores

Walk Score measures the walkability of any address using a patented system developed by the Walk Score company (since acquired by Redfin). For each 2010 Census Tract centroid, Walk Score analyzed walking routes to nearby amenities.


  • Allegheny County Department of Human Services
  • Allegheny County Economic Development
  • UPMC Health Plan
  • Jewish Healthcare Foundation
  • Carnegie Mellon Traffic21 Institute
  • University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health
  • Rand Corporation
  • Gateway Health Plan Inc
  • Highmark Health
  • Allegheny County CountyStat
  • University of Pittsburgh Center for Social and Urban Research
  • American Heart Association