Online Program

Out with old, in with the new - a one-year assessment of lawatlas workbench, a web-based content management system to support the measurement of law over space and time

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 8:30 a.m. - 8:40 a.m.

Damika Webb, JD, Public Health Law Research, Philadelphia, PA
Mark Rose, Public Health Law Research, Philadelphia, PA
The National Program Office for Public Health Law Research (PHLR) launched in October 2012. LawAtlas is designed specifically to facilitate the building and graphical display of quantitative legal datasets. It enables researchers to create custom web pages that allow users to interact with the data and the associated legal texts through queries and maps. is linked to a web-based content management system called Workbench. It was developed to provide a platform for compiling legal texts and coding their mechanistic features. Workbench is designed to increase the accuracy and efficiency of legal measurement projects. It allows researchers to automate the creation of databases for organizing legal texts, and coding forms for measuring the features of associated laws. When legal datasets are built inside the Workbench a simple staging process pushes the data automatically to the LawAtlas portal.

Methods: We designed a web-based system to support the infinite storage of laws collected to measure the evolution of specific legal topics over time and to have the discrete features mapped on

Results: Systematically collecting and coding statutes, regulations, case law, ordinances and other policy over time is feasible. Transiting our original United States boundary map to a Google-Map API allowed global, county and non-municipal geographic boundaries can be displayed on LawAtlas. Use of key Workbench features allowed simplification of redundant coding and calculation of reliability measures for systematic annual or bi-annual updates for all stored datasets.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Explain the utility of LawAtlas Workbench to measure law over time Describe the reliability measures to ensure accurate updates reflecting implementation of new law Demonstrate the specificity of mapping complex legal/policy boundaries.

Keyword(s): Law, World Wide Web

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the designer and developer of LawAtlas (an online web application) and I will be presenting about the first-year of LawAtlas, history and the future of the project. I work as the IT Director for Public Health Law Research, and I am primarily responsible for this software.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.