The IBL mapping tool lets you explore and compare your community with those around you. It displays information for a variety of topics by presenting a community's rank between 1 (lowest) and 10 (highest). Each rank represents about 10% of the communities. For example, if your community is ranked a 7 for health disparities, it means that 60% of the communities in Washington State have a lower level of health disparity and 30% have a greater level of disparity.
The IBL mapping tool contains maps on a variety of topics, themes and measures.
- Topic: The top level of the map, represents the overall rank combining data for all of the measures in the topic
- Theme: a group of related measures whose ranks have been combined
- Measures: individual indicators of health, environmental conditions or socioeconomic status
The most popular map topic is the Environmental Health Disparities map.
You can navigate to a specific topic map from the WTN topic pages that have an IBL button that looks like this:
Once you are in a specific topic map, you can explore the various measures that make up that map’s rankings.
How to Use
We recommend you start by watching our instructional video below.
When you first open the Information by Location tool, you will not be in any map topic. There will be a menu at the left side of the screen where you can select which topic map you would like to see.
Topic Map Tab: At the top of the menu box there are five symbols – each leading to a different tab on the menu. The first tab is where you select which map topic you want to view. All the other functions depend on which topic map you select.
The map shows the state of Washington with more than 1,450 census tracts. Census tracts are based on numbers of people so their geographical sizes vary, depending on how dense the population is in an area. When you first enter an IBL map, it may be difficult to see the census tracts in urban areas because of how little land they cover. You can zoom in on the area you are interested in using the +/- navigation buttons or other zoom functions in your browser. We refer to census tracts as communities.
Census tracts are based on the census taken every ten years. The number and size of census tracts change from census to census. The IBL is still currently using the census tracts created by the 2010 census. We are working on updating the tool and data to show census tracts from the 2020 census.
When you click on a census tract in a topic map, a pop-up appears. This shows see demographic information about the selected community, including population and the age, gender and race of its residents.
Clicking into a census tract also populates rank information for that community. You can see those ranks for each measure, theme, and overall topic. This provides insights into which measures are driving overall ranks, and what most impacts any given community.
By clicking on the chart icon next to each indicator, you can access more detailed information about the data, such as the source of the data and the downloadable data tables.
Map Features Tab: The second menu tab from the left is the Map Features tab. You can select different data to overlay the topic map, such as locations of hospitals or schools, or geographical boundaries like county and tribal borders. Clicking on a map overlay will bring up a pop up with information about that overlay. This may interfere with your ability to click into a census tract. If you experience challenges with census tract information, please check that you have unselected all overlays on the Map Features tab.
Location Look Up Tab: The middle menu tab allows you to search for specific locations within the map. You can search by zip code, address, or census tract identification number. When you enter a zip code or address, the tool will place a pin on the map and zoom in on the area. When you search by census tract number, the tool will zoom to that tract and highlight its borders.
You can also navigate to a location or geographical feature by clicking the Earth Map button at the bottom left of the map.
Information Tab: The fourth tab contains background information about the map topic and how the map was made.
Usage Tips Tab: The fifth, or far right, tab has basic tips on how to use the Information by Location tool. It also has links to our instructional video.
Sharing a Map
As you navigate through the data in the Information by Location tool, the URL does not change. If you want to share a link for a specific topic map, you can click the “Copy Map URL to Clipboard” button and paste a direct link from your clipboard. This link will go to the same topic map you were in, but will not include any other selections, such as overlays.
Rankings create a common scale to compare different issues at the community level. Rankings allow us to display health information and protect confidentiality in communities with small populations.
Creating the Rankings
We ranked all of the topics, themes, and measures using deciles (1 decile = 10%). To calculate the topic ranks we averaged all the theme ranks within the index. To calculate the theme ranks we averaged all the individual measure ranks within that theme.
In January 2022, we discovered inaccuracies in some of the ranks displayed in the Information by Location (IBL) tool. The problem was due to a data processing error in the tool's platform, not from errors in the underlying data or methodology. The error was corrected on January 31st, 2022, and the affected ranks were updated to reflect the correct information. To ensure future errors like this do not occur again, we have enhanced our data checking processes.
Understanding the Rankings
The rankings are a way to compare communities across Washington.
The IBL does not show the actual numeric difference between each rank. The ranks only show that there is a difference, not how large the difference is. For example: if your community has a poverty rank of 9, that means that about 10% of the other communities have a higher proportion of their population living below the poverty level, while 80% have a lower proportion of their population living below the poverty level.
To see the range of data used to create the ranks, you can click the bar graph icon at the lower right of the map. This icon is only visible when you click on a measure. For more detail you can also select the graph icon next to the measure within the IBL to search WTN data. You can then export the data table and sort to see the distribution of data.
The rankings help to compare health and social factors that may contribute to disparities in a community. You should not interpret rankings as absolute values. Do not use them to diagnose a community health issue or to label a community.
For information or questions related to the Washington Tracking Network, email DOH.WTN@doh.wa.gov. For information or questions related to the Environmental Health Disparities map email EHDmap@doh.wa.gov.
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