Episode 37 - Dr. Claudia Coulton: Location, Location, Location: Using Technology to Address Social Problems in Context
Monday, January 11, 2010, 8:23:00 AM
Social problems have specific physical and social contexts. Dr. Claudia Coulton discusses how social work practitioners, researchers, and students can use technology such as geographic information systems (GIS) and other analytic tools to understand social problems, improve service delivery, and promote community and social development.
dr.caludia coulton's podcast review, Thursday, October 22, 2020
By Joy Faulkner :
I was not familiar with the term spatial analysis methods. As, Dr. Coulton, continued to discuss the importance of not only working with the families but also looking at the spatial dynamics of the community. I began to understand that this aspect is just as important as working one on one with families. The example, Dr. Coulton used in the podcast was child wellbeing. Using data and research, you have to take a deeper look into the neighborhood or community environment. I think as social workers, we tend to focus on parents, children, and not so much the community that will affect a child development. Dr. Coulton mentions looking into programs that will improve the environment of the neighborhood. In order to bring these programs into the neighborhood of those who are in need, it is important that government agencies and organization to share data and records. Dr. Coulton did a good job explaining what tools to use as well as how technology has evolved in order to bring programs into communities that are in need.
uses of geocoding and analysis on microgeographies, Wednesday, October 07, 2020
By Barbara Deitz :
My undergraduate degree was in Geography. I can see how geocoding and analysis of data in order to map social indices onto neighborhoods can provide more precise information about how social factors are changing in relation to one another on a microlevel. Application of such relationships between data sets can shed light on the nature of community problems and effectiveness of interventions,
One of the examples discussed was particularly intriguing: To be able to use such data to conceptualize accessibility of community centers based not on simple physical distance from families and individuals, but on how those community members conceived of the true accessibility of such centers in terms of what is going on around the center strikes me as extremely valuable. If drug transactions, gang activity, or brownfields, for example, are present in specific microareas surrounding a community center that render it in fact inaccessible to certain pockets of the neighborhood, interventions such as safety corridors might be employed;. Additionally, new satellite centers might be placed based on such data rather than on simple equidistancing. Other questions night be explorable as well If those gang or drug activities move based on police or neighborhood interventions, where do they go? How far do they move? What interventions could be put in place in order to encourage farther movement of such activities?.
sw 564: review of dr. claudia coulton podcast- horrigan-maurer, Wednesday, October 07, 2020
By Caroline Horrigan-Maurer :
Highlighting the structural and environmental determinants that impact individuals, families, and communities is core to social work practice. Dr. Coulton's use of spatial relationships and processes allows social work practitioners to obtain a deeper understanding of the systems in which individuals live. Spatial dynamics is especially important for nonprofits to use in order to better determine the services that they provide, as well as how to implement such services that will be appropriate for their target community. Specifically, the spatial relationships that investigators like Dr. Coulton explore help programmers and nonprofits better understand potential barriers and facilitators to making services successful.
I especially liked how Dr. Coulton uses data to help identify solutions and interventions for social work practitioners to use that address issues at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. Dr. Coulton’s research exemplifies how data can be translated into real-world solutions. The examples of the child welfare system that she cites demonstrates how social workers address multiple facets of an issue and create solutions to improve a community.
Additionally, Dr. Coulton’s multivariable approach to evaluating the impact of community programs promotes innovation in community programming. Leveraging both catchment and target areas allows programmers and administrators to assess the overall impact of the program at larger, ecological levels. In my opinion, this facilitates better programming and improved opportunities for the target populations.
Overall, Dr. Coulton’s area of research contributes greatly to the field of social work. The use of spatial dynamics allows social work practitioners to better understand the setting in which they serve and allows programs to offer services that have an impact at multiple levels.
technology to address social problems, Wednesday, October 07, 2020
By Ashley Dugan :
Dr. Claudia Coulton's discussion of how technology is used to address social problems by focusing on not only demographics but location was very informative. The two tools she mentions- the geographic information systems and spatial analysis methods- that provide data and information tracking on individuals, as well as buildings, and assets. These tools are able to cross reference more data, which further allow for interventions to be provided to the population being served. Dr. Coulton teaches several different tools for collecting data regarding individuals, as well as data on community, which all further aid in providing services to those that need it. A key piece of information that was a take away from this podcast is how social workers can benefit from understanding spatial analysis methods- not only does this provide programs for individual students as well as their parents, but also how the community as a whole can benefit and provide support to the child development. She focuses on crime rate and safety of children, which in some cases may not require working directly with the child and their parents, but focusing on the environment in which they live. Dr. Coulton not only focuses on the micro issues, and interventions that need to be implemented, but she also focuses on the mezzo as well. By focusing on communities, neighborhoods, and schools, in which children are actively involved in- Dr. Coulton teaches how these tools and methods are essential in not only providing the services, but also knowing and understanding what needs to be done to provide the most effective interventions. She mentions how these tools are useful in providing programs such as child care or afterschool programs. In addition, these tools have shown to be rather useful in providing statistical information on important matters such as child abuse and neglect. The use of technology not only allows for the promotion of interventions but also it helps as a preventive tool.
data review, Tuesday, October 06, 2020
By Katie Mockler :
Being a fellow “data nerd”, I really enjoyed this podcast. I think it is incredibly important as technology advances, so does its implementation in the social work field. Especially now during a pandemic, I believe we will see much more technology usage and the social work field needs to adapt accordingly. Dr Coulton made a good point on how we (social workers) often just look at the individual issues of a client or family instead of looking at the community or environment around them. Working in in the child welfare system, myself we don’t pay too much attention to the community a family is living in unless it is a significant safety concern or stressor to a family. I think often times, especially in child welfare we are reactive versus preventative. I was excited to hear that utilizing geographic information systems and spatial analysis methods could help with targeting areas in the community for specific intervention to assist more with preventive social work. I have seen different types of data systems being utilized but it is sometimes difficult to see the bigger picture and the implementation of that data used effectively. I liked that Dr. Coulton gave many examples on how useful this type of data can be when implemented correctly. One example, explained how through data collection it could be determine that there is a certain geographical location that could benefit from an after-school program, which would lead to children being supervised more and theoretically less child abuse reports. Dr Coulton made another good point on how incompetent housing could negative effect an individual’s health as the family could be exposed to hazards such as mold, asthma, lead poisoning, etc. Just being aware of these issues could help with targeting specific community interventions. It is exciting to me how far technology has grown in this field and how much farther we can take it, we just need to know what data is out there and how to utilize it effectively.
podcast #37 review, Tuesday, October 06, 2020
By Onisse Colon-Gomez :
I will like start off by saying that it is very intriguing the work that you are done and have done so far with the databases and the technology provided. Technology itself has drastically changed from 1992 to present and I myself have been a witnessed to that being born in 1990. I think it is very important to have a place or resource that people can refer back to when doing their research on whatever target group they may be focusing on. In the field that I currently work in data is so important in order to best accommodate the population that we work with, so seeing it in a macro level just puts things into perspective. As social workers, when working with client’s, we do not want to give our clients the roundabout but more of the factual part of life and just like that I correlate it with your study and the work you are doing. It would be nice if this information can get out to everyone! Not only does this data influence and help out communities in need, but it also allows growth and development, especially in those communities who find themselves struggling time after time and cannot figure out why. I know you have only made it to 32 cities but imagine what would happen if it reached the world! I know things are always easier said than done and it takes an extensive amount of work and dedication but it was just a food for thought.
technology to address social problems in context, Wednesday, October 02, 2019
By Sterling James :
I really enjoyed Dr. Coulton's Location, Location, Location: Using Technology to Address Social Problems in Context. My only reservation is that low income areas are constantly under the microscope and pegged as being the faces of dysfunction and societies social ills. I appreciate using technology as a tool to gather data and I know. I didn't catch whether or not Dr. Coulton mention it but this reminded me of a sort of Algorithm that is used to determine the probability of and or risk of social issues based on location and economic status. I truly think that's a great tool to have.
where public health meets social work (pt. 1), Wednesday, October 02, 2019
By Paige Iovine-Wong :
As a dual-degree student in the MPH/MSW program this was an incredibly refreshing podcast to listen to. The approach to tracking community needs that Dr. Coulton discusses is highly reminiscent of epidemiological approaches to public health concerns. In particular, I am reminded of the birth of epidemiology in which John Snow (the physician, not the character) used mapping of cholera cases to track down the source of the outbreak. This approach is equally important to the issues primarily targeted by social workers, and it is exciting to see this kind of population-level/public health approach being taken with the integration of technology. What en exciting intersection! The systems thinking inherent in this approach can be incredibly empowering not only to practitioners, but to communities themselves when community leaders are provided with this information. I absolutely agree that the field, and indeed many service-oriented professions broadly, tend to underutilize technological advancements for systems-level change. It is therefore very exciting to see the ways in which they /are/ being used, and that the social work curriculum is seeking to integrate this type of thinking into our education. I would love to see it come more to the forefront, perhaps being integrated more broadly, as the empowerment to know how to seek out and understand the use of these tools can be imperative as the field moves forward.
episode 37 review, Tuesday, October 01, 2019
By Jamie J. :
I enjoyed how this podcast explored the usefulness of data collection and linked it to how we can improve programming that works to mitigate social problems. Dr. Claudia Coulton explained how the geographic information systems takes a holistic approach and allows social workers to look at the individuals we serve in the context of their environment. Through our training and education, social workers are taught to look at the whole person, including their social context and the numerous systems that they come in contact with on a regular basis. With the use of data collection that Dr. Coulton discussed, social workers will gather a better understanding of this social context and the impact that systems have, which will allow us to better serve our clients. At times, social workers lose sight of the big picture as they work to solve the problems that their clients are facing at any given moment, however, through the use of GIS, it is easier to gather data that evaluates the effectiveness of our interventions and programs. I appreciate how Dr. Coulton discussed real life scenarios where GIS could be useful to social workers such as evaluating child abuse/neglect, housing, crime, drug trafficking or teen pregnancies. We, as social workers, invest a lot of time and energy into developing and implementing programming and interventions so it makes sense that we would want to monitor that these programs and interventions are actually doing what they are intended to do. I like that Dr. Coulton took a practical stance in explaining that these different data collection tools are important for social workers to be familiar with, however she also understands that we don’t have to get bogged down with learning how to utilize every form of data collection tool there is. Rather, we need to be able to utilize our resources and reach out to professionals in those fields to assist us with analyzing data related to the social problems we are working to improve.
podcast review , Tuesday, October 01, 2019
By Sabrina Timm :
This discussion with Dr. Coulton has given me insight into an area that I believe doesn’t get the attention it deserves. I think Dr. Coulton’s innovative attitude towards using GIS and analytic tools in the field of socialwork is beneficial for students and practitioners listening in. I think she made a valid point when she mentioned how studying and gathering information with the use of current technological tools can increase our awareness regarding issues that may have been overlooked in the past. For instance, it was thought-provoking when she gave the example of her student tracking data of where the paint was being used. Understanding where the paint was sent can allow the distributor to know if that service it working effectively. If we apply this logic to giving a social service to the community then we can ultimately save money, time, and ensure that were making an impact where it matters. If we as social workers can better serve our clients using GIS or other analytical tools, then I am all for it. I think this starts with providing and promoting more technological education within the socialwork practice. We know from Dr Coulton that it can be timely to learn GIS/analytical tools, therefore just discussing the matter is not enough. I hope that we can use Dr. Coulton’s concepts to transform our practice to reflect our technological advancing environment. While I respect our traditional socialwork values of having face to face discussions and lectures, it may be time to make some changes. Having social work students use their phones, laptops, tablets and other handheld devices in the classroom will allow for our field to compete with others who may not have the best interest in the populations we’re trying to help. I don’t want to let a stigma towards the use of technology in socialwork to hold us back, especially if it has the potential to benefit how we do our jobs.
underrepresented communities and technology , Monday, September 30, 2019
By Savannah Figueroa :
Technology is a vital aspect to understand social problems and to learn about our social communities. I understand using tools from geographic information systems can produce ways of gathering survey data. However, how can this be used in underrepresented/undeserved communities, such as rural areas that do not have much outside or community resources? Especially, in the underrepresented geographically areas where child neglect and abuse occurs and is must be extremely difficult to address. How are spatial dynamics modeled in these areas and how do they effect individual’s well-being that live these areas?
I agree with Dr. Coulton’s findings that when you take into account the individual factors that might be associated with child abuse and neglect, those external aspects of the neighborhood disorganization are part of the explanation of the high concentration and prevalence of child abuse and neglect cases. Child abuse and neglect is probably one of the most highly targeted areas associated with the Social Work practice in the United States. I agree with the fact that neighborhood disorganization can impact a child’s way of developing and navigating through the systems that are for and against him/her. Each person’s physical and social environment effects their own individual problems, their interactions, the relationships they have with other individuals, and social networks. We need to consider what about neighborhood disorganization affects individual factors.
I think bringing in data from agencies and other sources is great and normal tools to use. As social workers, we need to realize that technology can be useful in all aspects of the practice. We use our human and natural elements to the practice daily, however using technology can be useful to handle extreme cases, cases that are broad, cases that have an effect on multiple areas, and cases that deal with government agencies and/or businesses.
excellent discussion of how social workers can utilize technology., Sunday, September 22, 2019
By Michael L. :
This podcast did an excellent job of exploring ways in which technology and data can assist social workers understanding of the client as a whole, and how we can use these tools to extrapolate a great deal about environmental conditions and circumstances that have both micro and macro implications for the community. For example, with respect to the work on child abuse & neglect, the data allowed the researchers to evaluate these cases within the context of various neighborhood factors such as the "disorganization" of the neighborhood, barriers, and spacial relationships to services and resources, etc. This allowed them to determine that cases of child abuse and neglect can be influenced by the environment and are geographically concentrated, rather than strictly related to factors of the individual. Additionally, the podcast stressed the important point that social workers need to be open to using technology to assist them with their work. In order to understand the background and individual circumstances of clients and situations, we need to be able to understand everything we can about their external environments and how something like spacial dynamics can influence outcomes. Being able to access and understand data is essential to being current and ethical in our approach to social work, by ensuring competence in our field. I especially liked the point made regarding how data (and especially government agency records) are more readily available to the public, allowing us to look at various trends and use this information to do advocacy work on behalf of individuals or communities. Lastly, I thought that Dr. Coulton did a great job of providing an example of the practical application of this work, through the discussion of her students' projects. More specifically, I thought it was important to stress how data analysis and geocoding can be used in a variety of different ways to understand social problems and assist with community development.
review of podcast part 3, Sunday, September 15, 2019
By Madeleine T :
This podcast made me think about the health care field. In hospitals, most if not all medical staff can access electronic health record of all patients that come into the hospital. This is an online data base that keeps a record of all patient visits to the hospital, prior health record, surgeries, what medications or resources given, and overall its helps physicians and other staff to understand the patient’s history. Similar to social work, we like to meet the client where they are, meaning we try to understand their surroundings, environment both social and physical, their strengths, limitations, and more. Imagine if each city had an online portal for health care workers including social workers to access to see the past and current client needs. It shows what has been administered to the client, their past story, professionals they have seen in the past, and more. With this technology we can better understand our clients even faster. This would allow us to get to know our clients faster to help with the current problem they came to see a social worker in the firsts place. I can also understand how this may create distance between the social workers and client because the client will now not have to go through their entire story and gain that special trusting relationship with the social worker. Overall, this technology has not been tested so we cannot say whether or not this idea would work.
Thanks for the captivating podcast conversation!
END OF PART 3
review of podcast part 2, Sunday, September 15, 2019
By Madeleine T :
If we can filter technology to use to our advantage, it can go a long way in our career. Research and data analysis, something that seems very tedious and tiresome to many social workers has become increasingly easier to access, understand, and use. It informs our practice, allows us to assess our data, implement programs, educate ourselves on the many demographics of this country, and helps us to find new ways to communicate, reach, and help those around us. This would especially help with low to moderate level neighborhoods. If we have the data available online and databases to assess the problems we are evaluating, this could help us evaluate the statistics and numbers that come from our data input in order to process them. From the data laid out for us, it can help us lead our decision making process and what we want to do with the information or how we interpret it. This in turn could be very beneficial for our social work field. With this technology we can reach more places. Places that have previously been too far or we have been unaware of. Areas that are isolated and could truly benefit from social work interventions.
With this technology we can better target the social problems, identify, assess, intervene, and evaluate our practice better all with logging it into data sights, researcher guides, and publishing our findings for others to use around the globe. This data technology will not only be beneficial for our practice as practitioners but for the potential clients and communities in need. We will bring the awareness, resources, and access to them.
END OF PART 2
review of podcast part 1 , Sunday, September 15, 2019
By Madeleine T :
I understand that feeling that social workers did not go into this field to adapt new ways of applying technology into their work, they rather base their knowledge on the human element. I believe in order to advance our work and stay ahead of times; we need to incorporate the technology mentioned by Dr. Coulton within social work community and social development practice. In this day and age, it is nearly impossible to work in such a field like social work and not come into contact with some form of technology whether that be a phone, computer, video chat, and more. Technology is supposed to make our jobs more effective. With the use of technology we are able to not only communicate easier but reach a farther crowd. Instead of meeting clients face to face, we can now talk to them on a phone, over video chat, or even text messages and email. We can also reach a higher amount of people. Technology is bound to our finger tips, with a click of a button we can search practically anything. Technology has helped paved the way for the future. Our society has become so fast paced; technology helps us to keep up with the ever changing times. So much information and knowledge to be gained can be accessed through the internet. On the other hand, it is numbing. Every day we hear about a new tragedy, bombings, threats, hate groups, homelessness, hunger, mass shootings and more. We hear about these incidents every day and before we can process one, the next day we are on to a new subject.
technology to address social problems, Sunday, September 15, 2019
By Aubree Jones :
I enjoyed listening to this podcast and continuing to think about ways we can use technology to improve our work. With the move towards data being collected and available in an electronic format, it makes it much easier for us to use that information in a way to better serve those in need. The ease of gathering this data allows us to spend more time understanding the underlying issues within a community and what programs would benefit them. I liked hearing some of the examples Dr. Coulton gave regarding student projects that were completed. There are so many opportunities to gather data and to gain better insight when dealing with social problems. This evolving technology also allows us to map out what is happening where, to paint a very clear picture. It is my hope that we continue to use the information that is at our fingertips to provide the best care, programs and services we can. We know that data and information is needed to evaluate our programs, and often this is necessary to maintain funding. I think it’s important to continue relying on data and information to know what programs we need to develop in the first place and really honing in on where those needs exist.
technology, social work and community needs assessment, Tuesday, October 09, 2018
By Estella :
This podcast encouraged me to rethink social work practice. Historically, social work practice is focused on face to face human interactions. However, and as technology expanding, social work practice is rapidly changing and challenges practitioners to think innovatively. Dr. Coulton explains how social work practice can use technology for analysis, development, planning and implementation of programs and policies. I thought about this information in the context of conducting a community needs assessment. In order for us to investigate a communities’ state of resources, we would conduct a needs assessment by collecting data. Typically, speaking data for the needs assessment is done by conducting interviews and focus groups. In my experience focus groups can become influenced by dominant attendees, which in turn can influence responses. Interviews can be costly, quality is based upon the ability of the person conducting the interview, and what is gathered in person or on paper now needs to be manually entered for analysis. Surveys such as the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) is a perfect example of the use of technology in social work. Through data that was collected, scholar, administrators, social workers and other professions can identify youth behaviors by age, grade level, gender, location, etc.
true to social work values, Monday, October 08, 2018
By Sarah Huerta Well :
Before this podcast, I'd never learned about spatial analysis methods and geographic information systems. Now I understand how this is so important and useful in the field of social work, and it is unfortunate that during the bulk of our education, we have such limited exposure to learn about such methods. As social workers, we often discuss the importance of meeting the clients where they are, and the effects of ones environment. To me, this is one of the values that sets our field apart from other helping professions, in that we do not limit our view to just the individual, but in assessing and treating we consider the multiple systems the individual interacts with. It is often true that when one thinks of technology, why shy away from it, yet after hearing this podcast I've become more aware of the many options in terms of technology, and how we can use it within the field of social work. I think I'd really love to take the course you teach on using this technology!
In viewing the trends of the community, the prevalence of incidents in certain areas, the demographics, and all the different categories of data collection as mentioned by Dr. Coulton, one really puts together a database system of vast knowledge that could be so useful for many fields. Rather than shying away from technology, I hope that I begin to embrace it more and see it as another avenue of providing the best service to our clients not only at the macro level, but mezzo and macro as well.
informative, Monday, October 08, 2018
By Gary Y :
It's great to learn more about different approaches in social work. We think of social work as a more personable and direct form of work. However, we must not forget that the world is forever changing and social work must change and adapt as well.
knowing what's out there, Monday, October 08, 2018
By Sara L. :
I think that the information that Dr. Coulton has presented in this podcast was extremely insightful and relevant to social work practice today. It can be a common thought that social workers are not too savvy when it comes to numbers and calculating data, but it is a crucial part of how we are able to help populations in need. When you have information regarding geographic locations it can help you understand the population of people that need to be served there and find effective ways to meet their needs. As Dr. Coulton was discussing areas that have high rates of child abuse/neglect, by having that insight to that area different kinds of programs can be developed such as prevention services. I feel like for social workers it is always best to know how are clients are connected to their environment and how that impacts their daily lives.
raising the volume with technology, Saturday, October 06, 2018
By Melissa Cirina :
It is hard not to be overwhelmed by the information that is at our finger tips. Dr. Coulton helps us as social workers recognize value in acquiring the skills to use tools and technology to better understand and address the needs of individuals, communities, organizations, and more. In an ever expanding technological world, social workers will fall behind if we see technology as a barrier to our work. With a balance of interpersonal relationships with and the efficiency that technology can provide we are better equipped to process information and turn it into tangible change. I believe technology is one of the most powerful tools we have when connecting work done at micro, mezzo, and macro levels. The sharing of data being it through GIS or simple online surveys is creating a world where more individual’s and community’s stories are heard and individual experiences are connected to the larger stories our society is telling. It is up to us to decide what role we want to play in amplifying this story.
data is powerful, Tuesday, October 02, 2018
By Jessica Brown :
Thank you for taking the time to record this podcast. I have engaged in discussions with peers around this topic, in part because I find myself somewhat resistant to diving into data as a tool for our work. I think I am a victim of the myth that social workers can't do maths. I did have a supervisor who was very good at taking raw data and finding meaningful insight in it which helped me to begin to see the power in this.
Looking at the physical environment and factors associated with that (for example, bus routes, highways which cut off neighborhoods, or even toxins) is totally in line with the way we are taught to practice in theory, but I have never been shown how to look at that data as part of planning an intervention. Fascinating stuff!
location matters, Tuesday, September 18, 2018
By gb :
Thank you to Dr. Coulton for taking what can be a very foreign concept for social workers and making some very important connections to the work we do every day. Your explanation of how using technology such as geographic information systems or computer assisted surveys enhances our ability to really identify and target issues for social change was clear and explained in a way that seemed non-threatening and actually doable. The whole approach to looking at how the greater environment impacts micro level problems is very in keeping with a person-in -environment perspective. Delving more deeply into the environment, I was able to see how resources, barriers and issues of “neighborhood disorganization” seem to keenly impact individuals, families and communities. Dr. Coulton was able to clearly outline how the use of readily available data can actually lend itself very well to identifying not only remedial solutions to social problems but preventive programs as well. The podcast was effective in tying together how technology, evidence based research and practice and micro, mezzo and macro social work fit together. It also underlines the very important role social workers can play in identifying the needs of individual families but also understanding that macro level changes may be needed in order to effectively facilitate lasting change for individual families in a community. Stakeholder input was confirmed as important when looking at areas to target for intervention. This podcast provided many ideas for use of already existing data that could be applied by social workers in multiple contexts. Thank you.
interested in your feedback, Wednesday, January 27, 2010
By David Monroe :
Community Connections of New York has finished creating an asset map of Erie County that will allow service providers, families, and youth to find resources in their community, modify resource based on changes in their neighborhood, and add new locations as their community grow and changes.
Please visit http://links-ccny.org. We would be interested in your feedback, comments, and assistance.
DISCLAIMER: The content shared by the presenter(s) and/or interviewer(s) of each podcast is their own and not necessarily representative of any views, research, or practice from the UB School of Social Work or the inSocialWork® podcast series.