Data & Research at the SPCO

Increasing the capacity of voluntary sector agencies to effectively use research and data for planning.

The Social Planning Council of Ottawa is pleased to lend its experience in social research, policy analysis, and community consultation to not-for-profit organizations and community members. Our goal is to build the capacity of local agencies and organizations to produce and to integrate community-based research in their planning processes and in taking action on social and economic issues.

Our projects benefit from the superior access to data, thanks to our membership in the Community Data Consortium, and to the full range of skills, knowledge, and expertise of SPCO staff and volunteers.

Ottawa & Region Data Consortium. The SPCO is pleased to be the host for the Ottawa chapter of a national Community Data Program created by the Canadian Council of Social Development.  This exciting initiative enables community based organizations and municipalities to access data from Statistics Canada and other institutions to identify and better understand the social and economic trends within their individual communities.  The Community Data Consortium reduces the cost of acquiring community data, builds community data analysis capacity and connects a national network of data users.

GIS Mapping. GIS analysis and social mapping help identify and highlight distributions and patterns that might not be apparent from tables and charts. Our maps have been used as valuable decision-making tools by experts, policymakers, and community organizations. With our expertise in geospatial analysis and social mapping we offer:

  • Analysis and visualization of socio-demographic trends using census data or community infrastructure and services information
  • Analysis of neighbourhood level data to identify issues, strengths, proposed solutions & to develop community action plans
  • Creating Story Maps and Participatory Community Maps: Using community or agency data to tell a story”

Data visualization. Data visualization and report design in a variety of formats: traditional print or interactive online reports, social media friendly infographics, dashboards/instant data analytics, case studies, videos (see our Social Enterprise, Hot Shoe Productions) and more.

Participatory research. Participatory research or action research, i.e. community groups doing their own research.

Our recent publications

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Reimagining Crisis Intervention: A Review of the Literature on Best Practices in Community-Based Crisis Intervention (Hussein, N. 2021)

A mental health crisis is a terrifying and traumatic experience to go through; it can be made even worse if the intervention used is prolonged or handled poorly. Crisis interventions are the methods used to help distressed individuals cope with their crisis from its critical moment towards recovery and follow-up. Literature about crisis intervention indicates that racialized persons with mental illness (PMIs) are disproportionately more likely to be injured or die after police encounters in the US, UK, Australia and Canada.

Aside from police who have been assigned as first responders to crises, the other most common crisis intervention model is the co-responding police-mental health program. Such programs reflect a partnership between mental health agencies and law enforcement agencies to build more efficient ways to handle PMIs. However, there has been limited evidence regarding whether co-responding police-mental health programs avert crisis escalation, improve officers’ perceptions of individuals who have a mental illness or are cost-effective. Moreover, the evaluation of co-responding models has not produced clear findings that could identify it as ‘best practice’ at diverting PMIs from the judicial system or reducing the likelihood of police brutality.

Evidence shows that investment in community-based crisis intervention programs involving interagency collaboration between service providers can foster collective impact in reducing the exposure of PMIs to the criminal justice system. A community-based approach effectively supports PMIs with diversion, treatment, and recovery while connecting them to community resources such as health care, stable and affordable housing, mentoring, conflict resolution, trauma-informed care, and employment services. Such initiatives are structured to address the root causes of mental illness by providing a supportive environment to help people overcome their challenges and tackle their socio-economic and health issues.

Summary Portrait of Ottawa’s Black Community in Comparison with the General Population (based on the 2016 Census), July 2020.

The following is a summary of data comparing the Black community to the general population of Ottawa, prepared by the Social Planning Council of Ottawa.  The information highlights the significant inequity experienced by the Black community, and is being provided to inform policy discussions on addressing anti-black racism.

Download the summary report

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The Ottawa Community Wellbeing Report:  Spotlight on Role and Wellbeing of Ottawa’s Community Services, 2018.

For more than 10 years, the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW), based at the University of Waterloo, has provided comprehensive analyses of how we are really doing in the areas of our lives that matter most. The CIW framework is rooted in Canadian values and reflects what really matters in our lives.

The CIW takes a systems approach and identifies key leverage points that have a positive impact on our wellbeing across several domains – Community Vitality, Democratic Engagement, Education, Environment, Healthy Populations, Leisure and Culture, Living Standards, and Time Use. When we tackle challenges in one part of the system, the improvements can translate across a number of domains and to overall wellbeing. (Canadian Index of Wellbeing and University of Waterloo, The 2016 CIW National Report, 2016, p. 2)

Wellbeing can be defined as the presence of the highest possible quality of life in its full breadth of expression focused on but not necessarily exclusive to: good living standards, robust health, a sustainable environment, vital communities, an educated populace, balanced time use, high levels of democratic participation, and access to and participation in leisure and culture. (Canadian Index of Wellbeing and University of Waterloo, The 2016 CIW National Report, 2016, p. 11)

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