Step 2: Review Data and Resources
Safe Communities America, Inc. is the
non-profit, coordinating and accrediting
organization for Safe Communities in
the United States.


In order to effectively prioritize and evaluate its efforts, your coalition will need to review and analyze injury data for your community. To develop effective intervention programs, you will need to work with partner organizations and other injury prevention programs. Learning what data and resources are available, and gaining access to them, are important steps in developing a Safe Community. 

Reviewing Community Data 

The Safe Communities model is built on the concept of data-driven, evaluated intervention projects.  This means that the coalition selects injury areas (e.g., motor vehicle collisions, residential fires, drug overdoses, falls, drownings, etc.) based primarily upon local injury data rather than upon personal intuition or community perception. Likewise, the coalition will select interventions that are evidence-based, i.e. interventions that have been well evaluated and found to produce significant positive results. In situations where an evidence-based intervention isn't available, the coalition will base its intervention plans on the best available data.  Finally, the coalition monitors the results of its intervention activities to insure that they are achieving measurable results. 

Your coalition will need to be able to identify the number of people who are injured in your community, the cause of injury (e.g., fire, fall, traffic collision, etc.), and the severity level of the injury.  In most cases, you should be able to break down injuries by age group, race, and gender. Once they have determined the number and rate of injuries in your community, and their level of severity, your coalition will be able to make informed decisions about which injury areas to prioritize.  By monitoring changes in the numbers and rates of injuries the coalition can evaluate its efforts and measure their effectiveness. 

The first step in reviewing injury data for your community is to obtain that data.  In many cases, your local and/or state public health department will have injury data for your community. Hospitals, emergency medical services (EMS) agencies, and other health care providers also have injury data that can be very useful for your efforts. Law enforcement agencies generally have data on the number of vehicle crashes and vehicle-pedestrian collisions in the community; their data often contains information about the number of people injured in collisions and the general severity of their injuries. Fire departments typically have information about fires and fire-related injuries, but they may also have information about other injuries, especially if they provide emergency medical services. Gaining the support of these organizations, either as full members of your coalition or as partners who provide necessary data, is very important. 

Once you have access to community injury data you will need to compile and analyze it. This is not a complicated process but it does involve bringing together data from different sources, removing duplicate cases, and creating a spreadsheet, report, or presentation that summarizes the most common, and most serious, types of injury in your community.  Examples of data summary documents are available from the Safe Communities Support Center at the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center

Performing a Community Assessment 

In addition to injury data, your coalition will need an inventory of the existing injury prevention programs, policies, practices and resources in your community. Does your local police department conduct traffic safety programs? Does the community hospital or your local health department have a community safety promotion program? Does the fire department offer fire safety education to local school children? These questions, and many more like them, are part of your community assessment. The goal of the assessment is to identify existing injury prevention and safety promotion resources in your community. This will help your coalition link with those programs while avoiding the duplication of existing efforts. 

Things to consider when doing a community assessment include: 

  • Programs: What existing injury prevention and safety promotion programs are already being conducted in your community? What organization is offering each program, and who are the intended target audience?
  • Policies. What laws, regulations, and organizational policies are in place in your community to reduce injuries? Consider not just public laws but also building codes, government agency policies, and even the policies of businesses and community organizations.
  • Practices. What common practices exist in your community to make people safer? From residents and businesses who routinely keep sidewalks clear and in good repair to schools that provide crossing guards, you may find ways that individuals and organizations in your community are already engaging in practices that make the community safer.
  • Partnerships. Does your community have existing partnerships devoted to making the community safer? If so, you may be able to join those partnerships or enlist them as members of your coalition. If such partnerships don't already exist, your coalition will need to take the lead in establishing them.

Once you have gained access to the injury data that you need, and identified the injury prevention and safety resources that are already available in your community, you are ready to move forward in your journey to becoming a Safe Community.