Project Description


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City of Santa Monica


The ultimate goal of health measurement, policy, and public health initiatives is to improve the quality of people’s lives through the support of local government. But, until now, government has lacked the information needed to make fully-informed decisions to address real-time challenges and barriers to good health and wellbeing. Furthermore, governments that endeavor to address public health issues have traditionally operated using a very narrow definition of ‘health’ and worked with a very limited set of health-related metrics. Specifically, health has been typically defined as the absence of disease. Subsequently, public health initiatives tend to target specific ills like rates of chronic disease rather than considering the whole spectrum of factors that come into play. Wellbeing measurement, on the other hand, takes traditional health measurements – rates of chronic disease, mental health status, and healthy behaviors – to the next level by considering environmental impacts, subjective wellbeing (happiness), thriving, resilience, social connections, and equity in order to create a fully-formed picture. Good health is more than the absence of disease. It’s also about the presence of individual and community assets that people need to flourish.

Through The Wellbeing Project, the City of Santa Monica is becoming the first City government in the world to create a way to genuinely understand the wellbeing of the community members it serves, from cradle to career and beyond, and then use that information to actively help people thrive. We created a framework that allows us to harness the power of data to consider the full range of environmental and societal factors known to influence one’s health and wellbeing. We are then using these data-driven findings to make decisions, allocate resources, and cultivate partnerships to address targeted trends and needs in our community.

This innovative approach to improving public health is supported by organizations such as the World Health Organization, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and others that are working to advance our common understanding of good health by integrating social determinants of health – the interaction between environmental and societal factors like employment, air quality, outdoor space, public safety, social cohesion, and economic resilience – effectively resulting in a revolution in the way we understand, measure, and address public health.

To learn more visit The Wellbeing Project website.