Data Access Portal: User's Guide

The Minnesota Public Health Data Access Portal (also called the Data Access Portal) provides access to data on a variety of environmental and health topics. This User's Guide includes:

What to use the portal for:

The data portal shows key health inequities by age, race, gender, income and more.  This information helps to focus state and local initiatives on at-risk populations and areas in Minnesota.  See examples at MN Public Health Data Access for cancer incidence by race/ethnicity, childhood poverty (map), and health insurance by race/ethnicity.
Data on the portal are used by city and county officials to inform priorities for public health planning and assessment.  The data also help health agencies achieve national accreditation.
Data on the portal are used to factor health into decisions about land use, transportation, climate adaptation strategies, and other topics.  The data help support evidence-based, long-term investments in the built environment, for example, to promote health and environmental outcomes, and quality of life. See the Data Access Portal and Health Impact Assessment.

How to use the portal:

All topics that the portal has data for are listed on the portal home page and the All Topics page. One tab shows all topics, listed alphabetically, and another shows them listed by category: diseases and conditions, environmental health, and health behaviors and risk factors.

Clicking on a topic will bring you to a Topic Page. Each Topic Page has three sections:

  • Topic main page, with a description of the topic and links to resources
  • Facts & figures, with figures, charts and graphs of the data collected on the topic
  • About the data, with more background information on how the data were collected and analyzed

Throughout these pages, you can hover the mouse pointer over some words and charts to get definitions of words, or to show the numbers for the data in charts.

To return to the home page, click Data Access Home on the left-hand menu. Once there, you can select another topic. 

Throughout the pages on the Data Portal, there are places where you can get more information by hovering your mouse pointer over a word or image. If a word is underlined in green, then hovering the mouse pointer over it will automatically display the word's definition from the Glossary. For the graphs and charts available throughout the "Facts & Figures" section of each topic, hovering over an area will show the data value (number) associated with that area. For an example, see Incidence of Melanoma in Minnesota, by year, on the Melanoma Facts & Figures page.

Each topic area on the portal has a web page with information and details about the data. This page identifies the source of the data, as well as the data's strengths and limitations. For an example, see About the Cancer Data.

Some topics have data that can be displayed in an interactive map. For these topics, there is a button on the Topic Page that says Map The Data. Clicking this button brings you to a special interactive data mapping page. In order to understand the mapped data, please be sure to read the Topic Information pages. 

When you are in the Map Application, you will notice that the map page is divided into two panes:

  • On the map pane, interactive tools let you choose what data are displayed by clicking on the four buttons along the top: select map, legend, data information, and map tools. Click "Select map" to choose which data to map for that topic. When you hover your mouse pointer over a county on the map, it displays the data value for that county. It also highlights that county's row on the data table on the right. When you move your mouse pointer to the table (in the information pane, on the right) and hover over a county, it highlights that county on the map. 
  • The right-hand information pane, initially shows a table that corresponds to the data on the map. In the data table, you can sort the data in each column in ascending or descending order by clicking the title of the column. There are also several tabs along the top. Each topic has tabs for Table, About the Data, and Help. Some maps, like the Cancer map, have a "Comparison Map" tab. Clicking this allows you to view two maps of different cancer data side by side, so you can see how they are different. Others, like Asthma, have a "Charts" tab that displays the mapped data as a chart. 

You can download or print the map by clicking on "Map Tools" in the map pane. 

To "query the data" means to ask the data portal to generate a custom data table based on your specifications.

If a topic has a "Query The Data" button at the top of the Topic Page, then its data can be queried. Clicking the button will take you to a page that shows you how to make a custom data query. The page will show you which options you can choose from. Make sure you choose something for each option available. For example, for a query of the Reproductive & Birth Outcomes data, choose an indicator, state or county, birth year, maternal age group, and maternal race/ethnicity. For Birth year, maternal age group, and maternal race/ethnicity, you can choose as many options as you want.

When you are finished setting up your query, click "submit query." A table will appear showing the data that you have chosen.

You can also scroll back up and change the specifications of your data query. To save this table, click the button labeled "Download Data." 

To query a different topic, click the blue arrow next to the topic title. A drop-down menu will show you all the topics that can be queried.

To return to the Data Portal home, click "Home & Topics," on the left-hand menu.

To search the portal, go to the search bar on the top banner of any page. Enter something you would like to search for - for example, Melanoma - and click the magnifying glass on the right side of the search bar. The search results allow you to filter the results by those available on the Portal, or on the whole MDH web site. 

The Data Access Portal has several resources to help you use and understand the information:

If you need help with something, email