Abt Associates has created a number of innovative tools to answer difficult questions, such as:
- What are the health and financial benefits of improving air quality?
- How can we ensure standardized results reporting from randomized control trials and other impact evaluations?
- What are the environmental impacts of large-scale changes to the United States economy?
These Abt tools -AirCounts™, The ASPES Learning Portal, BenMAP, CommentCounts™, EVIRATER™, GRAF, GxAlert™, Mozambique Mangrove CBA Workbook, PovertyCounts™, Principal Stratification Tool, Solid Waste Emissions Estimation Tool (SWEET), SPI-Path and TEAM – all are software-based systems that are informing governments, citizens, and others of the potential impact of decisions made today.
AirCounts™ is an online tool to help large and medium-sized cities calculate the health benefits and monetary value of air quality improvements. The interactive website — part of Abt’s arsenal of original climate change solution methods and tools—enables users to determine how many premature deaths can be avoided and the associated economic benefits in the largest cities worldwide. Visitors to AirCounts™ can choose any city and see its profile, including its fine particulate matter (PM2.5) level, the city’s population, income per capita and adult mortality rate. They can use the on-line calculator to determine benefits of various levels of emissions reductions. For more information about AirCounts™ contact Paul Anninos.
ASPES Learning Portal
The Analysis of Symmetrically Predicted Endogenous Subgroups (ASPES) Learning Portal is a tool for understanding the impact of an intervention on “endogenous subgroups” using experimental evaluation data. Endogenous subgroups are those that are defined by events that occur after the point of random assignment. For example, program managers and evaluators may be interested in whether the impact of an intervention is larger for the subgroup of study participants who experienced more of the intervention (and possibly smaller for those who experienced less of it). Visit the ASPES learning portal.
The Benefits Mapping and Analysis Program (BenMAP) uses a geographic information system to estimate the health impacts and economic benefits from improvements in air quality. BenMAP can perform comprehensive analyses but it is accessible enough so that non-technical users can estimate benefits after a short tutorial. Analysts have relied upon BenMAP to estimate the health impacts from air quality changes at the city and regional scale, both within and beyond the U.S. BenMAP includes nearly all of the information users would need to start performing a benefits analysis. BenMAP results can be mapped for ease of presentation. For more information about BenMAP contact Paul Anninos.
CommentCounts™ - a proven, secure, web-based tool for complex rulemaking support. Federal agencies use this tool to manage public comments and respond meaningfully and systematically. With CommentCounts, comments and responses are saved and managed in a secure, online database. Content specialists can customize the database to meet task requirements and code and organize comments into issue categories. CommentCounts handles multiple comment formats and is fully searchable. Reports can be customized and generated in Microsoft Word and Excel formats. For more information or to set up a demo, contact Barbara Bauer.
Policymakers, program leaders and philanthropic organizations are increasingly demanding that decision-making about policies and programs be guided by evidence. However, few tools are available to assess the quality of the full range of evidence produced by the spectrum of research designs typically used to evaluate program effects.
Abt Associates is responding to this need with EVIRATER™, a system for rating the strength of evidence that is applied to the full range of designs that might be used to evaluate programs. EVIRATER™ expands on current rating systems such as the What Works Clearinghouse and Clearinghouse of Labor Evaluation and Research that are used to review more rigorous research designs such as randomized controlled trials and high quality quasi-experimental studies.
Impact evaluations – and randomized control trials, in particular – are the core of Abt Associates’ evaluation work. To reduce our time and costs and increase the clarity and consistency of evaluation results, we developed the Guidelines for Reporting and Formatting (GRAF) in 2014 after recognizing the potential benefits of a standardized analysis and reporting system. GRAF provides guidance and statistical software code for statistical impact analysis, as well as code for producing publication-ready tables exhibiting results from that analysis.
The GxAlert Initiative™ facilitates real-time reporting of results from diagnostic machines to improve resource allocation and ensure rapid treatment for infected individuals. GxAlert™ can, for example, greatly improve tuberculosis (TB) test reporting times and information sharing from GeneXpert rapid TB testing machines, hundreds of which are being deployed around the world. GxAlert – developed by Abt in consultation with GeneXpert manufacturer Cepheid – is housed in a USB drive modem and can be set up on GeneXpert-brand rapid testing machines in 15 minutes. GxAlert™ gives a real-time picture of TB cases, including multi-drug resistant TB and TB-HIV co-infection.
Mozambique Mangrove CBA Workbook
As the technical lead of the USAID-funded CEADIR project, Abt Associates developed a spreadsheet (.zip) for analyzing the costs and benefits of USAID’s investment in mangrove restoration in and around the port city of Quelimane, Mozambique—building on our coastal restoration analyses and support in the U.S. and worldwide. Users can adapt this spreadsheet to their own related work in comparing the net benefits of mangrove restoration projects to investments in hard infrastructure that reduce coastal erosion, flooding, and associated damages caused by storm surges. The spreadsheet can also evaluate other financial and economic benefits of mangrove restoration, such as fish production and carbon sequestration.
PovertyCounts™ is used to assist development program staff to estimate the extent to which their programming is reaching the poor and changing the poverty rate over time. The tool is designed to be faster to administer than previous tools, tailored to specific country or sub-country contexts, and sensitive to changes in the economic status of program participants. The tool rapidly analyses information from sampled households, applying a model developed from existing consumption data, to estimate the poverty rate among program participants and the degree of confidence surrounding that estimate. For further information about the PovertyCounts™, please contact Anthony Leegwater.
Principal Stratification Tool
The Principal Stratification Tool tool assists researchers and evaluators in calculating the bounds for principal causal effects—the range of possible values of the principal causal effects that are consistent with observed data. This tool guides researchers through the framing, assumptions and calculations necessary to estimate the bounds on stratum-specific treatment effects. Using this tool, researchers can determine whether a principal stratification framework is appropriate for their data and research questions and calculate bounds for the casual effects of treatment within the specified strata.
Solid Waste Emissions Estimation Tool (SWEET)
Solid Waste Emissions Estimation Tool (SWEET) is a tool designed to quantify emissions of methane, black carbon, and other pollutants. The tool can track greenhouse gasses from a range of sources in the municipal solid waste sector, including landfills, waste collection fleets, and garbage burning. The data collected by SWEET will help solid waste managers establish and analyze baseline emissions and evaluate alternative future scenarios (e.g., upgrading an open dump to a managed dumpsite, or transitioning from diesel-based collection vehicles to ones that use compressed natural gas). The tool was developed by Abt Associates with support from SCS Engineers, on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Climate & Clean Air Coalition.
The Social Policy Impact Pathfinder (SPI-Path) is a suite of tools that offers clients—policymakers in the government and philanthropic sectors— the opportunity to learn more from the experimental impact evaluations in which they invest, to address not just overall effectiveness but key question of “what works?” Abt Associates’ methodologists have led recent advances in analytic techniques for this purpose, techniques that capitalize on the basic strengths of a randomized trial but stretch to new analytic strategies and reap the improved program design guidance that follows from “what works?” answers. These techniques are expressly designed to identify the pathways through which impacts accrue across the component parts of social programs.
The Trade and Environmental Assessment Model (TEAM) estimates a wide range of environmental impacts resulting from national economic changes. This comprehensive approach accounts for the potential for environmental impacts that from the sectors directly affected by an economic event – such as a change in trade policy – but also from changes in other sectors. The model relates economic activity specified by geographical unit (e.g., state) and North American Industry Classification System sector to emissions/resource use attributed to these same activities.
Download a model of TEAM. For more information about TEAM contact Isabelle Morin.