CVP Affiliated Faculty Antwi Akom Funded by RWJF for His Work with Streetwyze

Antwi Akom founder of SOUL Lab and the co-founder of Streetwyze Aekta Shah were funded through an RWJF Pioneer Award for their project “A Fitbit for Neighborhoods: Towards a New Approach to Building Health Equity with Our Nation's Most Vulnerable Populations".

Their project aims to revolutionize how health equity in America is achieved with low income communities and communities of color.  Their idea is to launch a Fitbit for Neighborhoods (called Streetwyze) which uses the power of technology, real time data, community-generated data and data visualization to lift up the lived experiences of our nation’s most vulnerable populations so they no longer feel “Stuck in Place." 

The problem they are solving is that place-based research using secondary data sets on income, education, occupations, and other social determinants of health (SDoH), while essential, are insufficient for developing a complete picture of health equity in America.  The gap they are filling is that secondary data sets miss much of the local, hyper-local, and lived experiences happening beneath the regulatory radar. To bridge this gap, it is necessary to move beyond a singular focus on traditional markers of health status (i.e. secondary data sets like the RWJF Country health rankings) and to consider the ways in which health equity is organized across time and space using real time data, location-based data, experiential data, and community-generated data. 

Their pioneering idea is the ability to launch a technology platform that has the ability to integrate community-generated data with Big Data and predictive analytics so that researchers, policy-makers, health care providers, and everyday people can have a deeper, more contextualized, more fluid, and comprehensive understanding of the place-based mechanisms that lead to health equity in America.  This is important because health inequality has never existed exclusively at the zip code, block, or even at the community level even though it has traditionally been measured in that way. 

Rather, various forms of inequality are organized and clustered at the neighborhood, street, and point level and these places and spaces represent critical sites at which American health inequality, are generated, maintained, and reinforced within the context of structural racialization and other forms of social stratification (Gieryn, 2000).  Our project aims to make these invisible data gaps more visible so that vulnerable populations can more effectively participate in co-creating the solutions that enable all people to achieve optimal health and thrive