Community Conversations:
Bias in Public Health Data

Bringing together technologists, community members & public health professionals to discuss bias in public health data.

Systemic change starts with data

Public Health data refers to how we quantify people and the environment, leading to important conclusions that determine policy, programming, and other outcomes.


How can we identify and eliminate bias from datasets that shape people’s access to public health resources, how programs are designed, and how benefits are allocated? Accountable, ethical uses of public information for social good must actively resist the criminalization and surveillance of low-income communities, people of color, and other marginalized populations. However, they must also work to include the diverse identities and experiences of our community.


This series of community conversations aims to answer the question: Can we eliminate bias in Public Health data?

Community Conversations Virtual Events

Hosted by CivTechSA in partnership with the City of San Antonio’s Office of Innovation, this Community Conversations event series tackles three areas where bias impacts data-driven policymaking: Identity, Reach, and Trust.


Each event will consists of a 40-minute panel of local leaders providing experience and educational information in the three respective subject areas, followed by a short interactive dialog with participants. Find links to the recorded events below!

Join the Conversation


August 11, 12-1 PM

Equitable data starts with how we identify and how we are counted. Can data be collected in a manner consistent with how our community identifies? What fields are missing from forms and surveys that describe our diverse population? This panel will focus on how to design more inclusive data collection tools that better reflect the identities of marginalized populations and communities of color.

This conversation will be moderated by Emily Royall from the City of San Antonio’s Office of Innovation with opening remarks from Brian Dillard, Chief Innovation Officer, and Zan Gibbs, Chief Equity Officer, City of San Antonio. Guest speakers include:


  • Dr. Wari Allison, Assistant Professor, Infectious Disease at UTHSCSA
  • Jeffrey Howard, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Public Health College for Health at UTSA
  • Alberto Gomez, PhD, IRYS and Urban Futures Lab


August 18, 12-1 PM

How data is collected determines its quality. When gathering information, what barriers need to be accounted for? This panel focuses on innovations that can transcend barriers to participating in data collection including the Digital Divide and cultural or socioeconomic barriers.

This conversation will be moderated by Dr. Golareh Agha from the City of San Antonio’s Metropolitan Health District with opening remarks from Brian Dillard, Chief Innovation Officer, and Jonathan Butler, Equity Manager, City of San Antonio. Guest speakers include:


  • La Juana Chambers Lawson, Tacit Growth Strategies (TGS), LLC
  • Candelaria Mendoza, City of San Antonio Office of Innovation
  • Demonte Alexander, Director of External Affairs & Special Projects, Bexar Facts


August 25, 12-1PM

People should be empowered by the data that’s collected about them. That’s why it’s critical to be transparent about what data is used for, and in some cases, provide people with direct access to it. This panel will focus on examining how data is used for decision making by both humans and machines (AI), and what opportunities exist to make that process less biased, and more accessible and transparent.

This conversation will be moderated by Joyce Deuley, Program Manager, Geekdom with opening remarks from Brian Dillard, Chief Innovation Officer, and Jonathan Butler, Equity Manager, City of San Antonio. Guest speakers include:

  • Dr. Colleen Bridger, Assistant City Manager and Interim Director of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District
  • Dr. Dhireesha Kudithipudi, Professor, Robert F McDermott Endowed Chair, Director of AI Consortium, UTSA
  • Suja Kamma, Co-Founder, FunnelAI

Metro Health Case Study

As an interactive portion of our Community Conversations, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District (SAMHD) is looking for your perspective, ideas and feedback about how it can improve its data collection processes, focusing specifically on the recent Priority Health Issues Assessment.

We want to hear from you

Continue the conversation by sharing your perspective. Fill out the form below to share your thoughts on the Priority Health Survey case study, or any of the Community Conversation topics.

Share Your Perspective

Submit your responses to Community Conversations topics and the Priority Health Survey Case Study.
  • Have you ever struggled to find a category on a survey that represented you? How would you change it?
  • Are groups in our community repeatedly underrepresented? How would you reach them?
  • What kinds of outcomes should or shouldn’t be determined by AI vs humans? How can we check bias when making decisions based on data?
  • Where does bias (race, gender, economic, cultural or other) occur in the survey questions, how it was administered, and how the data was sorted and analyzed?
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Your submissions will be moderated by CivTechSA staff, and must abide by our Community Standards (see bottom of blog post). All responses that fit those standards will be uploaded to a public response board, where the community can view everyone’s responses.
Your responses will be collected by CivTechSA, and reviewed by the Office of Innovation to support future data-driven policy processes at the City of San Antonio, and inform entrepreneurial efforts to create new approaches to working with data.
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