Keynote Address

Jennifer Smith, Secretary 

Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs

This keynote session will focus on the data challenges related to the Opioid Crisis. Proclaimed a disaster emergency in early 2018 by Governor Wolf, relevant data on the opioid issue is key to developing effective programs and policy, however several challenges effect the Commonwealth's ability to use data in such a way. First, even the most basic data - deaths related to opioid overdose -has several limitations as there are several originators of such data which all report different numbers and there data is not very timely as it takes time to gather and manage. Another challenge has been the lack of coordination among state agencies, police, fire, and emergency organizations; and other stakeholders in the effort to stem the epidemic. Alternate indicators of success as well as current efforts to coordinate data collection will be discussed.

Plenary Address

Jennifer C. Gibbs, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice 

Tara Reis, Senior in Criminal Justice Penn State Harrisburg

What to do about citizens' gun ownership is a divisive topic, so much so that the debate blocks legislators from passing "sensible" firearm policies. Given the sharp increase in the number of mass shootings - especially in school settings - across the United States, understanding why people hold a position on gun control is important to study. Even more so, research on the public understanding why others take positions counter to their own may offer insight to overcoming the debate on how to address gun violence. The presenters used questions from the Penn State Poll conducted by the Center for Survey Research at Penn State Harrisburg to explore these topics. Around 600 adult residents of Pennsylvania were surveyed via telephone in Spring 2016 on their positions toward gun control, reasons for their position, and why they think others hold opposing positions. A summary of the findings will be presented, with a particular focus on differences in opinion among social groups. Implications for policy will be discussed.

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Employment Outcomes for Individuals with Autism in PA 

Paul Turcotte, Research Associate Drexel University & Bureau of Autism Services

This presentation will focus on tracking employment outcomes for individuals with autism, who are currently receiving services through two Medicaid funded programs in the Bureau of Autism Services, the Adult Community Autism Program and the Adult Autism Waiver. Employment is a crucial part of an individual’s daily living, and Pennsylvania has prioritized employment for individuals with disabilities. These data are collected through monthly employment monitoring questions, which are filled out by a supports coordinator for each individual. Data collection started in November of 2016 is currently underway. This presentation will present longitudinal findings of employment outcomes, utilizing data visualization with tableau to give new insights into what the employment experience is like for this population. ​

Advancing Population and Personalized Healthcare through Big Data and Machine Learning 

Conrad Tucker, Ph.D., Associate Professor in Engineering Design and Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Penn State University

The prevalence of mobile devices and the rapid growth in the use of big data networks to communicate and share information, is providing health care decision makers with new opportunities to acquire large scale data that can potentially improve healthcare delivery through a better understanding of patient behavior and needs. This research proposes methodologies aimed at understanding social media network interactions and patterns. Textual, image, and geospatial data, generated through social media networks, can be used to quantify the health of a population by mining health-related keywords, and correlating them with real world healthcare outcomes. The goal of the proposed research is to advance the early diagnosis and monitor the progression/treatment response of patients’ medical abnormalities by using big data acquired from non-wearable sensors.

From a personalized health thrust, the research seeks to capture patients’ biometric data using non-invasive methods such as video capture. The research is based on advancements in sensing and information technologies that make it possible to capture biometric data such as heartrate and respiration rates, using data capturing devices such as a smart phone or video camera. This work expands the potential reach of sensor technologies capable of capturing patients’ biometric data using non-invasive methods. The research provides a scalable platform for integrating those technologies into healthcare in an effort to provide customized patient diagnosis and treatment solutions.

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A Spatial Analysis of Demographic and Economic Characteristics: Penn State Scranton Area          

Jaclyn Butler, Research Analyst Penn State University

This session discusses a paper about a methodological case study that examines the characteristics of the communities surrounding the Penn State Scranton campus through Exploratory Spatial Data Analysis (ESDA) and spatial regression. Do the economic and demographic profiles of these communities vary by their geographic proximity to the Scranton campus? What variables are associated with median household income in the Scranton area? The data for this paper were sourced from the Census and American Community Survey (ACS) five-year estimates. ArcGIS was then used to map these data, and GeoDa and GeoDa Space were used to conduct statistical analysis on the variables of interest. This paper will examine the following economic and demographic characteristics: median household income, percent with a bachelor’s degree or higher, median housing costs, and percent renter occupied.

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Pennsylvania Opioid Crisis: Data and Strategies to Combat It 

Phillip Burrell, Director of Research and Data Analytics Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania

This session will examine trends in overdose deaths over the last 3 years (2014-2016) using interactive tools, presenting at a county level the numbers of overdose deaths and the most frequently reported drug or opioid. In addition, the presenter will review the programs and activity around the state to combat this crisis.

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Leveraging Census Data for MPO Equity Analyses 

Shoshana Akins, Public Participation Planner 

Kim Korejko, Manager of Data Coordination 

Ben Gruswitz, Senior Planner Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and the Executive Order on Environmental Justice ( #12898 ) task agencies that receive federal funding to evaluate environmental justice (EJ) and equity issues but do not provide specific guidance on how to complete this important task within a region's transportation planning process. Therefore, MPOs must devise their own methods for ensuring that EJ and equity issues are investigated and evaluated in transportation decision-making. In 2001, DVRPC developed an EJ technical assessment to identify direct and disparate impacts of its plans, programs, and planning process on defined population groups in the Delaware Valley region. This assessment, the Indicators of Potential Disadvantage (IPD), formerly called the Degrees of Disadvantage (DoD) Methodology, is used in a variety of DVRPC plans and programs. This presentation will cover:

- What ACS and CTPP datasets we use to identify communities of concern - Statistical methods to highlight these communities throughout the region - How we use margins of error and coefficients of variation to gauge data reliability - Plans for applying our new EJ indicators at DVRPC in our various transportation programs

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Census Products and Tools/2020 Census Update 

Noemi Mendez, Data Dissemination Specialist

Lynne Newman, Partnership Specialist U.S. Census Bureau

What’s new for the 2020 Census – did you know you will be able to respond online, by phone or by mail? This presentation will provide information about how Census data is used, how local governments can work with the Census Bureau, and how you can form or join a complete count committee.

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Transitioning to a Modern Data Platform          

Michael Ghen, Data Science Program Manager Benefits Data Trust

This presentation give the audience an inside look at Benefits Data Trust's transition away from SAS towards a modern data platform. When we say "data platform" we refer to a collection of technologies and process that aim to satisfy our organization’s data needs. Michael Ghen will present the Data Science team's progress toward developing a data platform using modern technologies like BigQuery, Apache Airflow, and Looker. The focus of this presentation is on the infrastructure and operations that encompass BDTs data platform. Within the context of infrastructure and operations, Michael will highlight organizational challenges and benefits encountered during the transition to these new technologies. Attendees will leave with an understanding of what data platforms are as well as some recommendations for transitioning to a modern data platform.

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Census Rural Geography 

Michael Ratcliffe U.S. Census Bureau

“Rural” often is a residual category in urban-rural classifications; that is, rural is what remains after individual urban areas have been defined. There is growing interest, however, in proactively defining “rural,” including various kinds of rural areas and populations, and at various geographic scales, to enhance the relevance and quality of statistical data for rural areas. Through this presentation, I hope to encourage thought and discussion about new approaches to defining rural areas and rural populations to meet the needs of analysts and policy makers.

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Census of Agriculture: Then and Now 

Gina Geffrard, Megan Lipke, U.S. Department of Agriculture

The USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducts hundreds of surveys every year and prepares reports covering virtually every aspect of U.S. agriculture. Production and supplies of food and fiber, prices paid and received by farmers, farm labor and wages, farm finances, chemical use, and changes in the demographics of U.S. producers are only a few examples. NASS is committed to providing timely, accurate, and useful statistics in service to U.S. agriculture. To uphold our continuing commitment, NASS will Conduct the Census of Agriculture every five years, providing the only source of consistent, comparable, and detailed agricultural data for every county in America. Presenters will give brief presentations of the methodology used, data collection strategies, challenges, and updates on the 2017 Census of Agriculture.  Time will be allotted at the end of the session for questions and open discussion.

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Proposal for Better Aligning Block Groups and TAZs 

Ben Gruswitz, Senior Planner 

Kim Korejko, Manager of Data Coordination

The Census Transportation Planning Products (CTPP) Program Oversight Board recently changed its policy of reporting data by Transportation Analysis Zones (TAZ) [see policy statement]. The Board is recommending transportation planners get involved with the 2020 Census Participant Statistical Areas Program (PSAP) in order to better align travel model geographies with census block groups which will be the smallest geography reported in the CTPP going forward. We will explain the rationale for the Board’s decision and ideas for collaborating with traditional PSAP participants to achieve delineation outcomes that meet various parties’ goals.

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