July Data News – New Racial and Ethnic Segregation Data

New Racial and Ethnic Segregation Data

New Racial and Ethnic Segregation Data

Turn to PolicyMap for the latest data on racial integration in neighborhoods across the country. PolicyMap now provides an index of segregation that allows users to click on the map and instantly understand the level of segregation and the racial makeup of neighborhoods. Read More

See a complete list of new and updated datasets here!


Making Effective Visualizations

Mapchats continues next week with a panel of leaders in online mapping from Azavea, Foundation Center and PolicyMap, who will discuss the nuts and bolts of making beautiful and effective maps that tell a story.

July 28 | 3—4 PM EST


Test your knowledge of diversity data by entering our new Data Wizards (#DataWiz) contest!

Tell us which place in the U.S. you think is the most diverse by Sunday via Tweet (hashtag #DataWiz) or email, and winners will get a most special prize from PolicyMap.

Happy Mapping!
-Your friends at PolicyMap

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Think You Know Data? Show Your Skills In Our Data Wizards (#DataWiz) Contests

Knowing about data is just too much fun. Often, too much fun to just keep it to yourself. We know how you feel. Show off your nerd knowledge in our new series of #DataWiz contests!

We have officially announced our first #DataWiz contest, and it is well underway! The question is: What are the most racially diverse places in America? We’ve had great responses so far – keep them coming! Submit your answers by the stroke of midnight on Sunday, July 26th for a chance to win fame, glory, and even a prize from PolicyMap!

Answers can be submitted via Tweet with the hashtag #datawiz, email at info@policymap.com, and why not, we’ll even accept snail mail for this one. Winners will be announced on the blog on Monday.


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The Art of Maps: Making Effective Visualizations

The Art of Maps

Data is the key to maps. But show that data in a confusing, unattractive, or misleading way, and the power of your data is lost. Normally, Mapchats focus on using good data, but this time we’ll focus on the nuts and bolts of making good maps.

Tuesday, 7/28 | 3 PM EST

PolicyMap’s popular Mapchats series continues next week with a panel of leaders in online mapping, including Robert Cheetham from Azavea, Jake Garcia from Foundation Center, and PolicyMap’s own Bernie Langer. The topics to be discussed will include picking the right colors for a map, choosing the right map for the right data, and how to make a good map show change over time.

Click here to save your seat!

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Racial and Ethnic Segregation: In the News and On PolicyMap

Residential segregation certainly has been making headlines over the past month. On June 25th, the Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the Fair Housing Act of 1968 in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs et al., v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. et al., thereby upholding the ability for advocates to quantitatively show that housing practices have a “disparate impact,” even if the original intent of these practices is not discriminatory.

On July 8th, President Obama and HUD Secretary Julian Castro introduced a new rule to “affirmatively further fair housing.” This rule comes after several years in the making and is most notable in that it:

“directs HUD’s program participants to take significant actions to overcome historic patterns of segregation, achieve truly balanced and integrated living patterns, promote fair housing choice, and foster inclusive communities that are free from discrimination” (source: HUD Final Rule).

Both of these rulings attempt to redress and redirect residential patterns of segregation; a widespread by-product of decades of race-based practices such as redlining, contract mortgages, segregated zoning ordinances, and the concentration of tax credits for public and affordable housing in low-income, urban, neighborhoods of color.

The new HUD rule-making also makes clear that a primary aim is to make data-driven analyses and decisions regarding fair housing more accessible. To achieve this goal, HUD is enhancing their existing online interactive mapping tool, where grantees of federal subsidies can assess if housing is, or potentially is not, being allocated in a fair manner across communities.

At the heart of PolicyMap’s work is a similar aim – to provide individuals and organizations the data they need to better understand the social, political, economic and environmental context of life. So, while it was several months in the making, PolicyMap is making a timely release of several indicators that may prove complementary in assessing “disparate impacts” in housing practices.

National Segregation Index
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Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities Now on PolicyMap

Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO) conference in Kansas City, MO. It was a great chance to connect with local health departments from around the country and learn about current trends and challenges in the field. Among the many topics that came up throughout the conference, in sessions ranging from the opioid epidemic to community policing, was that of local public health responses to our communities’ growing mental illness and substance abuse needs.
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Data Update: 2015 CRA Eligibility

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), passed by Congress in 1977, was established to encourage banks to extend credit to low- and moderate-income Americans. CRA requires that financial institutions undergo periodic evaluations to determine whether they are meeting the credit needs of the communities in which they operate, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. The FFIEC released updated 2015 data last week, so we have in turn updated the CRA Eligibility and Tract Median Family Income as a percent of Area Median Family Income data layers on PolicyMap! You can find these data in the Federal Guidelines tab.

So, what makes a census tract CRA eligible? Tracts are eligible if they are low- or moderate-income, or if they are nonmetropolitan middle income tracts designated by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) as distressed or underserved. Low- and moderate-income census tracts are based on a comparison of tract median family income to area median family income:

Low: tract median family income less than 50% of area median family income,
Moderate: tract median family income greater than or equal to 50% and less than 80%,
Middle: tract median family income greater than or equal to 80% and less than 120%,
Any tract with a median family income greater than 120% is considered upper income and is not CRA eligible.

Use the map below to find out which tracts in your target area are eligible for CRA investment.

We hope you find this data update useful! As always, feel free to email us with any questions.

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Public School Data Doesn’t Take a Summer Vacation

PolicyMap has just updated a whole bunch of publicly-available school district data from two sources: the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), and the Census’s Public School Finance system. NCES tracks data on school district populations, while the Census provides information on district finances: revenue sources as well as expenditures.

Much of the data found in the Education tab on PolicyMap has just been updated to 2013. We’ve also updated Free and Reduced Price Lunch recipients by school district. Two highlights from this data are updated graduation rates and a brand new indicator: net revenue by school district.
Continue reading

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PolicyMap Participates in Baltimore Data Day

What better way to spend a Friday than with a group a data enthusiasts?  We at PolicyMap attended our first ever Baltimore Data Day: an annual workshop about data, tech and best practices.  At the afternoon session, “Using Data to Identify Opportunities For Creative Placemaking,”  we helped neighborhood groups, government officials and developers understand how to use PolicyMap in targeting arts-related investments.  Mark Treskon from the Urban Institute took us on a tour of Station North Arts and showed us their work there, with a fascinating discussion about the local data available through Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA).  Priya Bhayana at the Bromo Arts & Entertainment District shared her informative experiences and challenges with employing the arts as a community development strategy in Baltimore.  And Krista Green at Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts (BOPA) framed the conversation, bringing together the common threads of the conversation and synthesizing our contributions for the audience.

Here at PolicyMap we love working on arts-related projects like CultureBlocks and a mapping project currently that’s underway for ArtsWave in Cincinnati.  We hope to have the opportunity to contribute to the conversation about the arts in Baltimore, as well!

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Where are the Data on America’s Physical Infrastructure?

How we move ourselves and our resources as a nation is a critical and complex system. Our economy relies upon the efficient movement of goods, information and people, which in turn rely on the infrastructure supporting this transport.

Seeing as the current condition and future viability of our nation’s infrastructure has important public safety, economic, health and social implications, it would seem that having a central database on infrastructure systems would be of great value. Moreover, in their 2013 Report Card, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave America’s infrastructure a fairly dismal grade of D+, or “Poor: At Risk”. This wasn’t quite the vote of confidence that most of us would feel comfortable with.

So, seeing these potential gaps and opportunities, some of us at PolicyMap looked into the availability of infrastructure data, specifically if there were spatial datasets that could allow municipalities, organizations, and residents to know more about the condition of local bridges, roads, and waterways, for example.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a central database or map at all; instead, infrastructure data exist as a patchwork of different datasets from different sources covering different areas of the country. The good news is that depending on the type of infrastructure system you’re interested in, some national datasets are publicly-available. Here’s a quick summary of some of the more useful and easily-retrievable datasets:

• Bridges (FHWA/BTS)
• Roads (FHWA/BTS)
• Aviation Delays (BTS, DOT)
• Dams (FHWA/BTS)
• Brownfield Sites (EPA)
• Superfund Sites (EPA)
• Parks and Recreation (USGS GAP PADUS Database)
• Airports and Runway (FAA)
• Major Ports (FHWA/BTS)
• Pipeline and Hazmat Incidents (PHMSA DOT)

Some infrastructure data are easier to find at the municipal level, as some cities are leading the way in both collecting and releasing data on their infrastructure systems and capital improvement projects (CIPs). In particular, San Francisco has an interactive map of their CIPs, paving sites and green infrastructure locations. Their 10-year plan also includes a handful of informative maps on street improvement locations, water and wastewater system pumps, pipes and hydrants, as well as charts on funding allocations and needs. CALTRANS, the Department of Transportation in California, also provides geospatial data on transportation improvement projects, bridge locations and the rail network.

So what’s the take-away message here? Well, it seems that in order to accurately assess the current state and plan for future demand, having a centrally-accessible source of infrastructure projects would be extremely valuable and informative. But, it’s worth recognizing that this scale of a project would require massive organization, reporting and perhaps even an Act of Congress. We’ll wait and see.

What did we miss? How is your city or community accounting for its infrastructure?

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Credit Unions: Your Neighborhood Cooperative

You’re probably getting your hot dogs, American flags, and sparklers ready for Independence Day, but did you know that Friday, July 3rd is International Day of Cooperatives? According to the International Cooperative Alliance, cooperatives (co ops) are businesses owned and run collectively by and for their members.

One common example of a cooperative organization is a credit union. Credit unions are financial institutions where, unlike banks, all members own a share in the overall business. Credit unions do not have external stockholders, and are not accountable to creating profits– this cooperative structure allows credit unions to offer favorable interest rates on loans, and offer cash dividends to members based on the size of their investment.

PolicyMap is celebrating this Day of Cooperatives by updating our credit union locations, from the NCUA. Do successful cooperative financial institutions foster greater wealth in their communities? The map shows the nation’s largest credit unions by dollar amount of shares/deposits, in relation to per capita income.

Tomorrow, be sure to sit back with a cold lemonade and explore the many facets of credit unions while you enjoy your day off. Filter the dataset by credit union type, membership, charter (who is eligible to become a member), loans, employees, assets, and more. Credit unions can be found on PolicyMap in the Lending tab.

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