• Data Shop: Law as Data: Using Policy Surveillance to Advance Housing Studies

      Center for Public Health Law Research (Temple University Beasley School of Law) (2019-04-04)
      Within the large body of literature evaluating the role of various demographic, geographic, and economic factors in housing-related outcomes, law is often neglected as an influential variable. The growing field of legal epidemiology is popularizing the use of law as data in quantitative analysis. As with any other dataset, it is imperative that legal data are accurate and meet high quality control standards. To that end, a method known as policy surveillance was developed to ensure the reliability and reproducibility of legal data and can be used to evaluate the impact of law. Policy surveillance is a type of scientific legal research that produces robust, scientific data for empirical research by mapping, or tracking, laws and policies and their characteristics across jurisdictions and over time.
    • Policy Surveillance: A Vital Public Health Practice Comes of Age

      Center for Public Health Law Research (Temple University Beasley School of Law) (2016-12-01)
      Governments use statutes, regulations, and policies, often in innovative ways, to promote health and safety. Organizations outside government, from private schools to major corporations, create rules on matters as diverse as tobacco use and paid sick leave. Very little of this activity is systematically tracked. Even as the rest of the health system is working to build, share, and use a wide range of health and social data, legal information largely remains trapped in text files and pdfs, excluded from the universe of usable data. This article makes the case for the practice of policy surveillance to help end the anomalous treatment of law in public health research and practice. Policy surveillance is the systematic, scientific collection and analysis of laws of public health significance. It meets several important needs. Scientific collection and coding of important laws and policies creates data suitable for use in rigorous evaluation studies. Policy surveillance addresses the chronic lack of readily accessible, nonpartisan information about status and trends in health legislation and policy. It provides the opportunity to build policy capacity in the public health workforce. We trace its emergence over the past fifty years, show its value, and identify major challenges ahead.