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About LawAtlas

In our federal system, states have broad authority to set policy through legislation and regulation. These policy differences are important to health.  Understanding how state policies vary across states and how they develop over time is just as important to promoting population health as understanding the distribution and spread of disease or health risks. Knowing which states have specific policies is required for building an evidence base about the relative effects of different policy choices, and for identifying when that evidence base is not being translated back into policy. LawAtlas is a vital tool for exploring variation in policies over time and across states.

What is LawAtlas?

LawAtlas provides a platform for the systematic collection, measurement and display of state-level laws. It is a resource for researchers, practitioners, policy-makers and the public. 

What can I do with LawAtlas?

Explore Interactive Law Maps – Visitors can use the Interactive Law Maps pages to generate maps and tables that highlight selected features of the law as it exists today, or to see how it has changed over time. These maps and tables are generated from policy surveillance datasets that are produced by PHLR staff, grantees and outside sources. 

Read Policy Surveillance Reports – On the Policy Surveillance Reports page, visitors can download prepared summaries of current law based on the topics displayed in the Interactive Law Maps and Data pages.

Access Data – On the Data page, visitors can view and download the underlying legal data, codebooks, and protocols.

What is Policy Surveillance?

LawAtlas is an example of policy surveillance — the systematic collection, measurement and synthesis of policies and law, with the goal of improving health and safety. As with other types of surveillance, such as disease surveillance or injury surveillance, policy surveillance measures variation in policy through replicable and transparent processes that yield numerical data, called datasets. Datasets reflect features of a policy across space and time. Policy surveillance datasets are available for download on the Data page.

Who designed LawAtlas?

Key conceptual development and operational support for LawAtlas is provided by the staff at the Public Health Law Research (PHLR) national program office, along with Avialae, LLC and Temple University. 

Public Health Law Research is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation®, with direction and technical assistance provided by Temple University. PHLR promotes effective regulatory, legal and policy solutions to improve public health.