A refreshing update to PolicyMap icons

At PolicyMap, we are always continuing to update how users can better utilize the tool. We receive feedback from our users, reaching out to our users for comments, and occasionally poll what our users are asking to have.

To stay fresh and new, we have to always look forward. So today, we are releasing our latest upgrade to PolicyMap.

We all learned how to make emoticons on our keyboards, a simple combination of characters produced a mixture of emotions; happy :-), sad :-(, surprised :O, cheer \o/, and more. With our smartphones came emoji icons which gave us even more ways to better express ourselves in simple pictograms.

starscraft_ii_by_liggliluff-d59d89bWe are happy to update our icons on PolicyMap to Ponycons! We realize that the icons on PolicyMap might lack a certain panache and flair, so with feedback from our users and careful research we found that My Little Ponies can easily depict most datasets.

We’ve started rolling this update out with everyone’s favorite, Rainbow Dash and what better dataset then to have Head Start Locations. Check it out below or on the PolicyMap site under the Education tab.

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Persistent Poverty on a Neighborhood Scale

While the incidence of poverty has been increasing for the nation as a whole, there are a number of communities that have experienced high poverty rates for decades. The element of time is in fact critical in determining appropriate interventions for impoverished communities. A place with a high level of poverty last year but not this year is in much better shape than a neighborhood facing high poverty for multiple decades in a row. Identifying areas of long-term, concentrated poverty is important because it can be related to other issues such as poor housing and health conditions, higher crime rates, poor child development and educational outcomes, and employment dislocation.

Given the importance of this issue, we’ve added persistent poverty data at the census tract level to PolicyMap. While we’ve had county-level persistent poverty data from the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund available for some time now, this new data provides users with a more granular look at neighborhoods facing long-term poverty.
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PolicyMap at ACRL – Booth #174

portland-acrlAre you attending the upcoming ACRL conference in Portland, OR on March 25-28?

Stop by booth #174, to find out why a growing number of universities are subscribing to PolicyMap, the web’s largest (and most affordable) one-stop shop for community data and mapping.

Use PolicyMap to easily find, visualize, and share data that’s essential for:

Research in a variety of disciplines:

  • Social sciences
  • Urban planning
  • Public policy
  • Public health
  • Education
  • Business administration
  • and many more!

University and library administration:

  • Strategic planning
  • Government and alumni relations
  • Community outreach and engagement
  • Economic development
  • Competitive grant applications

If you’re not sure what to do in Portland, ACRL has created a great welcome video!

Stop by BOOTH #174 and learn more about PolicyMap!

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Celebrating Pi Day with PolicyMap

This year, Pi Day falls on a Saturday, so by federal mandate, we are observing it on this Friday. Pi Day, of course, on 3/14, is a celebration of the mathematical ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.

You want circles? PolicyMap has circles.

For starters, there are Radius Custom Regions. Want to make a report for a half mile diameter around an address? What better address that 1415 Pi Circle, Pasadena, Texas?

Half-mile radius around 1415 Pi Circle.

Half-mile radius around 1415 Pi Circle.

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Research Your Community on HealthyFoodAccess.org

PolicyMap is pleased to announce Research Your Community, a new mapping tool available on HealthyFoodAccess.org. The Healthy Food Access Portal is a collaborative project of The Food Trust, PolicyLink, and The Reinvestment Fund; the site is a knowledge hub and learning network focused on resolving the limited and inequitable access to supermarkets and grocery stores in both rural and urban America.

Many healthy food access initiatives and funding opportunities require data-supported descriptions of a community’s assets and needs as part of the application process.

Healthy Food Access Portal MapHealthy Food Access Report

This tool can help individuals and organizations better understand the communities in which they are working to improve access to healthy food, while serving as a valuable resource for your advocacy and fundraising efforts. The grocery landscape is ever changing, and data is one of many ways to paint a picture of a community’s need for healthy food access interventions.

Research Your Community allows users to access 60 data indicators, including:
• Demographics, including income and SNAP participation;
• The food environment, including locations of supermarkets and farmers markets;
• Health indicators, such as fruit and vegetable consumption; and
• Eligibility data for federal funding programs, such as the New Markets Tax Credit program.

For more information about how to use Research Your Community, register for a webinar tomorrow, 3/10/2015 or read our detailed instructional guide.

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Mapping the Way to Wisdom

Maggie McCullough, our tireless leader and the person who first conceived of PolicyMap, has been featured in the Heron Foundation’s Influencer Series. The Series is called “Mapping the Way to Wisdom” and describes how people use PolicyMap to get data about the places they work in and care about. Maggie also talks about the inspiration for PolicyMap and what motivates our team here to do what we do everyday.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Success to me is seeing Policy Map in use by cities across the countries, multiple agencies, using it, thinking about where they’re making investments in a neighborhood so that they can all achieve their end goals more simply so that they’re strategically thinking about their work in neighborhoods. So at the end of the day they can begin to see more people coming out of poverty, more kids attending good schools, better public transportations at the right place.”

Have you ever wanted to know a bit more about how and why we made PolicyMap? Click here to read more and watch a short video.


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MPIP and PolicyMap: A Great Way to Partner!

Metropolitan Philadelphia Indicators Project (MPIP) today released new interactive maps powered by PolicyMap. Available data on the MPIP maps include mortgage lending, land area, demographics, educational attainment, housing characteristics and employment for each community that comprises the Delaware Valley Region – a nine county region in Pennsylvania and New Jersey centered on Philadelphia. Data is available for any of MPIP’s public visitors for exploration in interactive maps and can be easily downloaded.

MPIP is an effort of Temple University in Philadelphia and began as one of the nation’s first community indicators project in 2003. MPIP’s goal is to develop a systematic way to collect and analyze the conditions facing the townships, cities, and boroughs of the Greater Philadelphia area by tracking and making publicly available the demographic, economic, housing, health, and environmental conditions facing these communities.

MPIP was one of the early members of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership – an effort of the Urban Institute that now includes local partners in 34 cities. The NNIP effort has created a national voice supporting the capacity building efforts of projects across the country just like MPIP. Continue reading

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The Changing of the ZIPs

Mr. Zip

Mr. Zip

ZIP codes change. Longtime blog readers know this. They’re based on mail delivery routes
and post office locations, not on established neighborhood areas. While a neighborhood might stay the same, a local post office can close and change the whole ZIP code makeup of the area.

Our ZIP code boundaries come from a company called Maponics. They update their ZIP code maps constantly, based on information from the U.S. Postal Service.

In order to maintain some order to our maps, we update our ZIP codes once a year. That update has just happened, so if you go to PolicyMap now, you can see the most recent ZIP codes. We’ve noticed quite a number of changes, including to our home ZIP code, 19103. Continue reading

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Mapping Arts & Culture; CultureBlocks a Bright Idea!

PolicyMap is thrilled to report that CultureBlocks has been recognized as a bright idea by the Ash Center at Harvard University.

CultureBlocks is a free mapping tool that supports the arts and cultural community in Philadelphia and supports people making decisions about place and creativity. The site is powered by PolicyMap and we worked with an incredible team to develop the site. Congratulations to our partners at Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (OACCE), the Department of Commerce, and the Social Impact of the Arts Project (SIAP).

Click here to see more about the Ash award.


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Easy Mapping for Public Health Insights

In case you missed the Insights into Public Health webinar, we have posted the session below with some great details regarding the datasets! We hope you found it valuable but please don’t hesitate to contact us with any additional questions.

As mentioned during the webinar, PolicyMap has a wealth of data that can be useful for a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) or other work in the public health realm. This includes data concerning physical health, infant and maternal health, uninsured populations, various federal programs, and the location of health facilities such as hospitals and FQHCs. In addition, the tool includes a broad array of data related to social determinants of health, such as demographics, income, healthy food access, the economy, housing, public transportation, etc.
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