HPI 3.0
Frequently Asked Questions


Q. What is the Healthy Places Index® (HPI)?

The Healthy Places Index® (HPI) is a powerful and easy-to-use data and policy platform created to advance health equity through open and accessible datEvidence-based and peer-reviewed, the HPI supports efforts to prioritize equitable community investments, develop critical programs and policies across the state, and much more. Originally launched in 2018 by the Public Health Alliance of Southern California (Alliance), the HPI has become a go-to data tool for hundreds of state and local government agencies, foundations, advocacy groups, hospitals and other organizations that want to apply a health equity lens to their work.

Neighborhood-by-neighborhood, the HPI maps data on social conditions that drive health — like education, job opportunities, and clean air and water. This data is used by community leaders, policymakers, academics and other stakeholders to compare the health and well-being of communities, identify health inequities and quantify the factors that shape health.

Q. How does the HPI work?

The HPI tool evaluates the relationship between 23 identified key drivers of health and life expectancy at birth — which can vary dramatically by neighborhood. Based on that analysis, it produces a score ranking from 1 to 99 that shows the relative impact of conditions in a selected area compared to all other such places in the state. The HPI scores and compares geographies across the state, now with the ability to view data neighborhood-by-neighborhood, providing an even more granular view of community well being.

The HPI score rank is divided into four quartiles and displayed on a map where users can explore healthy conditions across census tracts, cities, counties, congressional districts, school districts, and now, ZIP codes and unincorporated areas. Additionally, the HPI map platform provides detailed data about specific social drivers of health in any location and allows users to filter by race, ethnicity, and country of origin.

The HPI also gives policy recommendations tailored to the health conditions of each geography. These recommendations provide guidance on where resources should be directed to create the most impact. The HPI was built on the premise that lasting systems change can only occur when communities and leaders understand and recognize the connections between race and place when addressing health equity.

Q. Who made the HPI?

The Public Health Alliance of Southern California. The Public Health Alliance is the coalition of 10 health departments in Southern California, representing 60% of the state’s population. We envision vibrant and activated communities across California, achieving health, justice, and opportunities for all.

The Healthy Places Index® was created in partnership with our map developer Axis Maps.

Through the Healthy Places Index®, widely regarded as the state’s premier source of health equity data, we advance health equity and racial justice. The Public Health Alliance is fiscally administered by the Public Health Institute.

For more information visit thepublichealthalliance.org.

Q. How can HPI be used?

Anyone can access the HPI platform at map.healthyplacesindex.org and use it for free. The HPI 3.0 provides community leaders, policymakers, academics, and other stakeholders with the sound, validated data needed to identify and combat inequity and elevate community voices. Some additional ways the HPI 3.0 can be used are outlined below:

  • State and local leaders can use HPI 3.0 alongside input from community residents to prioritize investments, resources, and programming in neighborhoods where health needs are greatest, ensuring that all residents have what they need to be healthy.
  • Planners can use the tool to analyze data and prioritize resources as they update their general or specific area plans.
  • Transportation agencies can use the HPI to inform smart investments in health-promoting infrastructure such as sidewalks and bicycle lanes.
  • Other agencies (e.g., park or public works departments) can use it to evaluate needs, plan investments, and apply for grants.
  • School districts can use the tool to understand the needs of their student body and community or to develop specific policies such as a Safe Routes to School Plans.
  • Community-based organizations can conduct high-level analysis and produce maps that show health inequities in the communities they serve and use this information to influence policymakers or apply for grants.
  • State organizations that span multiple communities or regions of California can use the tool to study the different areas they serve and advocate for increased resources and greater investments in these locations— or suggest that the tool is used to allocate funding and other programs to areas where they will have the greatest impact.

Learn more on our HPI Into Action page.

Q. What is new in HPI 3.0?

Building upon HPI 2.0 and incorporating invaluable input from our user community, HPI 3.0 now includes completely updated data and introduces new and enhanced features to make data more accessible. Community leaders, academics, advocates and residents will now be able to:

  • Compare data across geographies and time periods
  • Examine the link between race and place
  • Filter geographies by race, ethnicity, and country of origin
  • Generate HPI ranks within your city, county, and more
  • Access hundreds of new decision-support layers, including over thirty measures disaggregated by race/ethnicity or language
  • Receive policy recommendations tailored to the specific needs of you community
  • View historically redlined neighborhoods

Visit our interactive map tool at https://map.healthyplacesindex.org to explore these new features!

Q. How was the HPI used in response to COVID-19?

The HPI has played a pivotal role in tracking, responding, and planning for recovery efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, see our COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions.

For more in-depth examples and how the State of California and other sectors have specifically used the HPI we provide an overview of the positive impacts that HPI’s place-based approach has had on allocating resources, ensuring an equitable reopening, and saving lives at the HPI & COVID-19.

Q. Can I still view or download HPI 2.0 scores?

Yes! To view HPI 2.0 scores on our interactive map platform, open the Tools menu, then select View Indicators. Use the Select year(s) of data dropdown to pick 2.0 from the menu. The map will reload to show HPI 2.0 scores.

To download HPI 2.0 scores, sign up for an API key.

Q. How does HPI 3.0 compare to HPI 2.0?

You can directly compare each version of the HPI on our interactive map platform. Open the Tools menu, select Compare Data, then pick HPI Score from the HPI Indicators > Primary category. Use the Select year(s) of data dropdown to pick 2.0 from the menu. The map will reload to show HPI 3.0 and HPI 2.0 scores side-by-side.

In developing HPI 3.0, the Alliance prioritized comparability and continuity with HPI 2.0. They have the same eight policy action areas, share many of the same indicators, and the same methodology was used to calculate the HPI score. About 80% of census tracts in the lowest HPI quartile (Quartile 1) are the same between HPI 2.0 and HPI 3.0. For more details on how the update compares, please refer to the HPI 3.0 Technical Report found in the Knowledge Vault.

Q. What is the HPI “race and place” frame?

Race and place are proven to acutely impact health outcomes. We’ve updated the HPI platform on the premise that lasting systems change cannot occur unless leaders, community providers, advocates and residents themselves understand the critical relationship between place, race, and a person’s health outcomes.

We were intentional about enhancing these features in the HPI 3.0 update, including:

  • Detailed demographic information available for every California community
  • Key measures of diversity, equity, and inclusion, such as historic redlining, presented alongside the HPI score,
  • Dozens of data layers disaggregated by race/ethnicity, and
  • A Filter by Race/Ethnicity mapping function

The ability to analyze impacts of race and place on the HPI 3.0 platform affords insight on the specific needs and conditions of each community. That additional insight allows you to develop more equitable interventions, programs, and allocations of resources and funding. It also ensures that these resources are scaled appropriately to each region. And, these enhanced data and tools help communities better advocate for their own needs.

Q. What time period does the HPI 3.0 capture?

HPI 3.0 captures data primarily from 2015-2019, which was the most recent data available upon our launch in April 2022. Data sources for each indicator can be found in the Indicator Details panel of our interactive mapping platform, or in Appendix B of our HPI 3.0 Technical Report.

Q. Can I download HPI data?

Yes! There are two ways to access our data:

Q. Does HPI 3.0 include data from the 2020 Census?

HPI 3.0 includes one measure - Census Response Rate - sourced from the 2020 Census. Because most of our indicators cover an earlier time period (2015-2019), HPI 3.0 uses 2010 census tract boundaries. Future updates to the HPI are likely to include more data from the 2020 Census, including updated census tract boundaries. Learn more in our HPI 3.0 Technical Report.

Q. Why isn’t there an HPI score for my community?

To improve the statistical reliability and validity of the index, we only calculated HPI scores for census tracts with at least 1,500 people and where fewer than 50% of residents live in institutional settings like dorms, nursing homes, and prisons. HPI scores are available for over 95% of California census tracts. Learn more in our HPI 3.0 Technical Report.

For purposes of resource allocation and prioritization, some people and programs who use HPI assign the lowest quartile (Quartile 1) to census tracts or ZCTAs without an HPI score.

Q. What geographies are HPI scores calculated for?

HPI scores are currently available for:

  • Census Tracts
  • Zip Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTAs)
  • County Unincorporated Areas
  • Cities/Towns
  • Medical Service Study Areas
  • School Districts
  • Counties
  • Congressional Districts
  • State Assembly Districts
  • State Senate Districts
  • Core-Based Statistical Areas
  • Metropolitan Planning Organizations
Q. How do I use the HPI 3.0 Map?

Check out our Video Tutorials! These short, easy-to-follow instructional videos walk you step-by-step through the key features and functions of our interactive map platform.

You can also contact us for customized trainings or technical assistance at AskHPI@ThePublicHealthAlliance.org.

Q. How does HPI 3.0 compare to other indices, like CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index?

Please refer to our HPI 3.0 Technical Report. This report provides detailed comparisons between HPI and a number of other measures (like poverty) and indices (like SVI).

Q. I’m not in California, and I’d like a customized HPI for my city, county, or state. Where do I start?

Contact us! Our platform was built with expansion in mind. We’d love to talk to you about bringing the HPI to your state or jurisdiction.

Q. Where does data in the HPI come from?

Indicators in the HPI came from many places, including, but not limited to:

  • American Community Survey
  • US Environmental Protection Agency
  • US Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • California Environmental Protection Agency
  • National Land Cover Database

Data sources for each indicator can be found in the Indicator Details panel of our interactive mapping platform, or in Appendix B of our HPI 3.0 Technical Report.

Q. Does HPI include data on California American Indian Areas?

Yes! Of the 110 distinct American Indian Areas, 105 - or 95% - have at least partial coverage by HPI-eligible tracts. Learn more in our HPI 3.0 Technical Report.

You can also view the location of and population in American Indian Areas on our HPI 3.0 map. Open the Tools menu, then select View Indicators. Expand the Overlay category, then select the Population in American Indian Areas layer.

Q. Does the Public Health Alliance provide technical assistance or trainings?

Yes! We provide many resources, including video tutorials, on our website, healthyplacesindex.org. You may also reach out to AskHPI@ThePublicHealthAlliance.org  if you’re interested in organization-specific or customized trainings.

Q. Are there plans to add new data and features to the HPI 3.0 Map?

Absolutely. This is just the start! Sign up for our mailing list at healthyplacesindex.org to be notified of new data and feature releases. Or, email us directly at AskHPI@ThePublicHealthAlliance.org to share your suggestions and recommendations for what we should add next.

Q. What types of disaggregated data are available?

Where available, we have provided HPI indicators and decision support layers disaggregated by either race/ethnicity or language. You can see the full list in our HPI 3.0 Technical Report, or by exploring the Compare Data and View Indicators functions of our interactive map platform. Any indicator with the below icon next to it is available to view disaggregated.

Q: How often are the data updated in the HPI?

We don’t have a set update schedule for our HPI scores, as it is dependent on the update frequency of HPI’s component indicators, which vary from annually (our American Community Survey-sourced datasets) to five years or longer.

In the case of certain indicators not sourced from ACS, we used the most recent data available to us. Some indicators may not be updated regularly, or were produced only once. When we update the HPI, we’ll re-assess each indicator we’ve included for both availability and timeliness to make sure we’re providing the most recent data possible.

Q: Why is race not included in the Healthy Places Index®?

After considering different ways to incorporate a race/ethnicity lens into HPI, the Alliance believes it is more revealing and actionable to stratify individual indicators by race/ethnicity groups. This is preferable to relying on a single number, which masks the dynamics of social cohesion and social exclusion experienced by different race/ethnic groups over time. However, HPI scores in census tracts with majority or overrepresented Black and Latino populations tend to fall into the lowest HPI quartile, which includes communities impacted by racism and other structural inequities that limit opportunities for a healthy life. Learn more in our HPI 3.0 Technical Report.