Policy is a powerful tool that can improve health and wellbeing by addressing specific risks or impacting social conditions that are drivers of health and quality of life. But governmental policies can vary immensely from one jurisdiction to another. Surveillance of policies at the local level can help facilitate evidence‑based policy adoption between cities, states, and beyond. This essay highlights the CityHealth model, which has successfully influenced policy change by illuminating the quality and quantity of nine key city policies in the forty most populous U.S. metropolitan areas. Providing the public, press, and policymakers with an easily translatable accountability framework—using gold, silver, and bronze medals to assess policy status—is a constructive lever for addressing gaps in key social determinants of health.
This essay is based on a presentation given at the Center's symposium, 10 Years of Public Health Law Research: Looking Back and Looking Ahead.