Allegheny County Data Warehouse
Client-level demographic, service, and provider information across multiple DHS service areas e.g., aging, child welfare, intellectual disabilities, mental health, and homelessness.
Individuals and families using services and supports provided within Allegheny County
Allegheny County Data Warehouse data are available to researchers upon request. The Allegheny County Data Warehouse pulls together client and service data from sources internal and external to the county and is managed by the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS). Some data in the Data Warehouse from external sources (e.g., school districts, emergency services, and the Department of Labor and Industry) are not available to request through DHS. For data that DHS is not authorized to release, researchers would have to reach out to the source directly to obtain permission and receive the data from them. The full list of data sources is presented in the appendix of the Data Warehouse Documentation.
For data that DHS is authorized to release, researchers may request de-identified data, limited data (contains two or fewer of the 18 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-defined identifiers), or identified data (contains more than two HIPAA-defined identifiers). Researchers must submit a research/data request form, as well as a copy of institutional review board (IRB) approval and protocol if requesting for identified data, to the DHS privacy board at the email [email protected]. Research requests without IRB approval, will require approval from the DHS’ Department Review Board. The DHS privacy board may grant exemptions to the IRB requirement on a case-by-case basis. Researchers can also choose to include a data extract template as an example of how they would like the requested data to be structured.
If the request is approved, researchers must complete and submit a data sharing confidentiality agreement, also known as a Data Use Agreement (DUA). Researchers will then be contacted about the data transfer mechanism and completion timeline. Researchers may be asked to provide a write up about their study and findings for DHS. These write ups would be posted on DHS’ public website.
Timeline for Access
It usually takes 30 days for the review of the application, after which the DHS privacy board will respond by email with further questions or its decision. After the request has been approved and the data sharing agreement has been completed, the signature process at the county can take a few weeks up to a couple of months, depending on the time of the year. This process may take longer if the researcher’s institution provides their own language or agreement, which will need to be reviewed by the county’s legal department. The data will then be sent as soon as it is ready and the data sharing agreement is signed. Researchers may also choose the frequency at which to receive the data (ad-hoc, daily, weekly, or monthly).
Any data that came from the Allegheny County DHS must be destroyed or returned after 14 days of the data sharing confidentiality agreement ending, and DHS must be notified.
The lag time for records to be updated vary by data source. In-house DHS services, e.g., child welfare, are updated daily, while data from some external partners are updated on a quarterly basis. See the “Data Lag” column in the data dictionary for specific details.
There is generally no fee associated to access the data unless the data request is part of a grant or contract with the DHS which specifies a fee.
The Allegheny County Data Warehouse has data from other Allegheny County government departments (e.g., Housing Authority, Jail, Probation Office, Health Department, Medical Examiner), as well as non-Allegheny County government entities (e.g., emergency services, school districts, and the Department of Labor and Industry). The Data Warehouse contains data on clients, services, providers, and facilities across multiple DHS programmatic service areas: Aging, Children, Youth and Families, Homelessness/Housing, Drug/Alcohol, Early Intervention, Independent Living, Intellectual Disabilities, and Mental Health. See the data dictionary for more information. Details about the programs and program areas can be found on the Quick Count Tool page.
Partial List of Variables
Client information: demographic information, program involvement, services received
Provider information: name, location, type of providers, and services delivered
Facility information: services offered, services rendered, cost of services
Klitzmiller, Erika M., 2013. “IDS Case Study: Allegheny County’s Data Warehouse: Leveraging Data to Enhance Human Service Programs and Policies.” Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy (AISP), University of Pennsylvania.