Background: Since 2009, the Minnesota Department of Health has developed and enhanced the Minnesota Environmental Public Health Tracking Network (MN Tracking) through a cooperative agreement with the CDC’s National Tracking Network. Through this network, Minnesota has made significant progress towards bridging the gaps that exist between fragmented environmental and public health data systems and building an integrated environmental health surveillance system for informing public health action. Today, MN Tracking maintains a web-based data portal – Minnesota Public Health Data Access Portal (MN Data Portal) – to provide public access to high quality data; interactive charts, maps, data queries; and risk messaging and action resources for 26 topics. MN Tracking has provided evidence and motivation for public health programs, interventions, and policies, translating to real impacts and improvements for MN communities and public health partners.
MN Tracking is a leader, trusted partner, and hub for the MN environmental public health system, and it is critical that the expertise, data service, governance capacity, and technical infrastructure be sustained, expanded, and modernized. More work is needed to modernize our data, analyses, infrastructure so that we can continue to grow and leverage more efficient, effective, and engaged strategies and tools to improve the health and well-being of all communities. MN Tracking and our MN.IT partners have the experienced staff, relationships, technical resources, and commitment to health equity that are needed to advance Environmental Public Health Tracking in the 21st century public health system.
Purpose: The purpose of MN Tracking is to ensure that local, state, and national stakeholders have high quality, actionable data and tools needed to inform public health programs, practices, and policies to improve health for all communities and eliminate environmental health disparities. We do this by conducting rigorous surveillance; filling critical data and information gaps; providing modern, cost-effective, and accessible data tools; regularly assessing and integrating stakeholder needs; and telling resonant and actionable stories with data. For the next five years, four strategic focus areas will guide our work and partnerships: children’s environmental health, environmental justice, climate change, and data modernization.
Outcomes: Primary short-term outcomes include: Increased surveillance of environmental health disparities; Improved portal functionality, tools, and utilization; Increased collaboration with stakeholders to reduce health disparities; Increase dissemination of environmental health information; Increased knowledge and ability and EPHT workforce; and Increased recipient capacity to provide technical assistance to advance environmental public health interventions.