Child Opportunity Index

”The goal of child opportunity index mapping is to create measures of neighborhood-based opportunities that children need to develop and lead healthy lives... ... The project defines child neighborhood opportunity as the context of neighborhood-based opportunities that influence children’s health and development. These opportunities include educational opportunities (e.g., quality early childhood education), environmental opportunities (e.g., availability of healthy food), and social and economic opportunities environments (e.g., low poverty).” (; Kirwan Institute)

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Started in September 2016, the Vital Village Network began to downscale the COI to a block-group level for Metro Boston. Below, you can see the product that was created to see the varying child opportunities under each census tract in Boston and surrounding cities and towns. Our method paper is in prepration.  We are extremely proud of our product, and we hope you find it informative. Please check with us if you want to use the data for your mission/goals.


Reference: Acevedo-Garcia, D., McArdle, N., Hardy, E. F., Crisan, U. I., Romano, B., Norris, D., ... & Reece, J. (2014). The child opportunity index: improving collaboration between community development and public health. Health Affairs, 33(11), 1948-1957.

Our method manuscript is under preparation. Contact us for details.

Useful Glossary: 

  • Map Background - the base layer to which layers can be added. A variety of details such as street names and public places can be seen depending on the map scale.
  • Check Box - adding a map layer: A small box which you click on, to add or remove a map layer. A 'cross' or 'tick' in a check box signifies the layer is loaded and an empty box means a layer is not loaded.
  • Vector Features - vectorial representation of real world features within the GIS. They can be points, lines, or shapes. For example, a 'vector feature' could be a point that represents one school or a shape that represents a block.
  • Raster - raster data is made up of pixels, in which each pixel is associated with a value or class. They are usually regularly-spaced and square.
  • Layer - A set of plotted vectors or raster which are superimposed onto the map background. Layers can be added and removed using the 'check box' (see above). You can also overlay different layers to compare.
  • Zooming - use mouse scroll or “+” to enlarge the map for better details.
  • Coding - A systematic way in which to condense extensive data sets into smaller analyzable units through the creation of categories and concepts derived from the data.
  • Block group - A block group is a subdivision of a census tract (or, prior to 2000, a block numbering area). It is the smallest geographic unit for which the Census Bureau tabulates data. A block group consists of all the blocks within a census tract, beginning with the same number. Block groups generally contain 600 - 3,000 people.
  • Geographic Information System (GIS) - GIS is a computer application used to store, view, and analyze geographical information, or information associated with a location. Typically, a GIS is used for creating and handling maps. GIS allows researchers to identify spatial patterns among problems and resources.
  • Online GIS - an online/web GIS is an internet-based system that allows you to use, create, and share maps, scenes, layers, analytics, and data. For our data dashboard, all the resources are publicly available and free to use.

Glossary references: Healthy City Community Research Lab;;

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