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Colorado Social Determinants of Health Digital Platform Community Facts
Data 101: Data Literacy


Because Shift is committed to building the capacity of social change organizations to use data, we're bringing you Data 101, a social media campaign aimed at increasing data literacy by providing definitions to widely-used data terms and concepts. As part of this campaign, we are including a glossary of data terms on our website. Scroll below to access the terms and their definitions in alphabetical order. We’ll continue to add new terms to the glossary, so be sure to check back and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about the Data 101 Word of the Week.



AnalysisAnalysis is the detailed examination of anything complex in order to understand its nature or to determine its essential features. Shift conducts analysis through its Research and Community Assessment lines of service to better understand the challenges facing the Denver metro region, then we make the findings available through reports and digital information tools.





BiasBias means preferring one side of an issue without fully considering or understanding the opposite side. People can be biased because of what’s popular, or from believing stereotypes or rumors. The opposite of a biased view is an objective view.





CensusCensus is a complete enumeration, usually of a population, but also of businesses and commercial establishments, housing, farms, governments, and so forth. Shift utilizes census data for many of its open data tools, including Community Facts and the Data Engine.





CSVComma Separated Value (CSV) is data with commas as the delimiter. This format can be read into almost every spreadsheet application, such as the commonly used Microsoft Excel.





DatabaseA database is a program that lets you store, organize and manipulate data. The Colorado Data Engine is a reliable, go-to database for accessible, neighborhood-level data.





DemographicDemographics are the statistical data of a population, especially those showing average age, income, education, etc.





Demographic AnalysisDemographic analysis is a technique used to develop an understanding of the age, sex, and racial composition of a population and how it has changed over time through the basic demographic processes of birth, death, and migration. Demographic analysis (usually abbreviated as DA) also refers to a specific set of techniques for developing national population estimates by age, sex, and race from administrative records to be used to assess the quality of the decennial census.




Denver Metro RegionThe Denver metro region is the seven-county region of Denver comprised of Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson counties.





DisadvantagedDisadvantaged is lacking the normal or usual necessities and comforts of life, such as proper housing, educational opportunities, job security, adequate medical care, etc.





Ethnic PluralityEthnic plurality is a state of society in which members of diverse ethnic, racial, religious, or social groups maintain and develop their traditional culture or special interest within the confines of a common civilization.






Food desert

An area, usually low-income, in which many residents cannot easily get to stores that sell affordable, healthful foods.






Geographic coordinatesLatitude measures distances north and south of the Equator and longitude measures distances east and west of meridians. Both are measured in degrees to show geographic locations on a map.




GISA geographic information system (GIS) is a computer system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on Earth's surface.






A household includes all the people who occupy a housing unit (such as a house or apartment) as their usual place of residence. A household includes the related family members and all the unrelated people, if any, such as lodgers, foster children, wards, or employees who share the housing unit. A person living alone in a housing unit, or a group of unrelated people sharing a housing unit such as partners or roomers, is also counted as a household. The count of households excludes group quarters. There are two major categories of households, "family" and "nonfamily."




low-incomeOf or relating to those with a relatively small income.






Margin of errorAccording to the U.S. Census Bureau, a margin of error is the difference between an estimate and its upper or lower confidence bounds. Confidence bounds are created by adding the margin of error to the estimate (upper bound) and subtracting the margin of error to the estimate (lower bound).





MetadataData about the data






MetricA standard for measuring or evaluating something, especially one that uses figures or statistics.






MigrationMigration includes all changes of residence including moving into, out of, or within a given area. Foreign country, or state, county and city of previous residence is collected and coded. International migration refers to movement of people across international borders.






Neighborhood levelExamining data at the neighborhood scale, as opposed to other geographies such as national, state, county or Census tract.






PopulationAll people, male and female, child and adult, living in a given geographic area.






Poverty LineA minimum income level used as an official standard for determining the proportion of a population living in poverty.






Public DataPublic data is information that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone with no existing local, national or international legal restrictions on access or usage.






QueryTo request information from a database, oftentimes in a specialized language called SQL.






ResearchDiligent and systematic inquiry or investigation into a subject in order to discover or revise facts, theories, applications, etc.






self-sufficiency standardThe Self-Sufficiency Standard determines the amount of income required for working families to meet basic needs at a minimally adequate level, taking into account family composition, ages of children, and geographic differences in costs.





Skewed dataMore observations either to the left or right side of the mean value.






SQLStructured query language; standard language for accessing databases.






Student Level DataIn education, student-level data refers to any information that educators, schools, districts, and state agencies collect on individual students, including data such as personal information, enrollment information, academic information, and various other forms of data collected and used by educators and educational institutions (e.g., information related to disciplinary problems, learning disabilities, medical and health issues, etc.).




SurveyA data collection activity involving observation or questionnaires for a sample of a population. (A census is a 100-percent sample survey; it collects information about every member of a population.) Surveys are normally less expensive to conduct than censuses; hence, they may be taken more frequently and can provide an information update between censuses. Often, they are used to collect a wider variety of information than is collected in a census.





Vulnerable birthsSome children are impacted by risk factors at birth that make them more vulnerable to experiencing adverse health and education outcomes later in life. Two uniquely identifiable risk factors that can be used to define a “vulnerable birth” include being born to a teenage mother or being born to a mother 20 or older with less than a high school education.

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