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.
Continue reading

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Mapchats – Using PolicyMap in the Classroom

PMAP in the Classroom
As a follow-up to requests during our Mapchat on using GIS in the classroom, we’re offering a session on using PolicyMap in the classroom. Mapchats will hear from Dr. Ira Goldstein about how he incorporates PolicyMap in his social science and research methods courses.

IraGoldsteinIra Goldstein, PhD,The Reinvestment Fund and the University of Pennsylvania

Ira Goldstein is President of The Reinvestment Fund’s (TRF) Policy Solutions Team, where he leads all research related to TRF’s organizational goals and mission. Dr. Goldstein is a nationally recognized expert on America’s housing policy issues and mortgage markets and his work has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and has also been included in several publications of the Federal Reserve Board and Banks. For more than 20 years, Dr. Goldstein has served as a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania teaching courses in social science and research methods including spatial analysis. Dr. Goldstein holds a B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from Temple University.

Here are Dr Goldstein’s course assignments used in his class;

Watch the recorded Mapchats webinar:

You can see the PowerPoint used in the webinar here:

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Mapchats – GIS in the Classroom

GIS in the Classroom_2
With the advent of new and better technologies, GIS is becoming much more accessible. Mapchats will hear from professors in various fields about how they are adapting to the fast-changing world of GIS and its application across disciplines.

Panelists include:

AmyHillierAmy Hillier, PhD, University of Pennsylvania School of Design – Amy Hillier is an Associate Professor of City and Regional Planning in the School of Design and holds a secondary faculty appointment at the School of Social Policy & Practice. Her research focuses on racial and economic disparities and access to services and resources in disadvantaged communities. She teaches introductory-level GIS courses in city planning, social work, and urban studies, and most of her own work uses GIS and spatial analysis. Most recently, Dr. Hillier’s research has focused on access to healthful foods and outdoor advertising.

ElainePrewittT. Elaine Prewitt, DrPH, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences – T. Elaine Prewitt is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the College of Public Health. Her research focuses on obesity in African Americans, translational research, nutrition in chronic disease, food and nutrition policy, and health disparities. She teaches courses on grantmanship and funding, nutrition policy and intervention, and advanced methods in health disparities research.

JessicaDeganJessica Deegan, MGIS, Minnesota Housing Finance Agency and University of Minnesota – Jessica Deegan is the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Coordinator and Research Specialist for the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency. She holds a Master’s degree in Geographic Information Science and a Bachelor’s degree in Housing Studies from the University of Minnesota. Since 2004, Jessica has been adjunct faculty in the University of Minnesota’s Housing Studies program, teaching coursework on GIS and research methods for housing market assessment and analysis.

Watch the recorded Mapchats webinar here:

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Love For Thematic Mapping

It looks like we’re not the only ones who love thematic mapping:
Maponics’ Tuesday Term of the Week caught my eye this week.
Glad to know we’re in good company! The Tuesday blog posts from our vendor of zip code boundaries never disappoints and often describes the things we love about mapping in simple, easy-to-understand language. Thanks to Maponics for contributing to the conversation!

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Select release of 2014 Limited Supermarket Access (LSA) data available on PolicyMap

We are pleased to let our users know that the 2014 Limited Supermarket Access (LSA) data are now available on PolicyMap for a select group of states! The release offers a look at the data for five states – California, Colorado, Florida, Ohio, and Virginia. The analysis is part of The Reinvestment Fund’s (TRF) extensive efforts to address the inadequate and inequitable access to healthy foods in communities across the country. Click here for the full press release from TRF.

Last year, with support from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, TRF announced the creation of ReFresh, “a national initiative designed to improve access to healthy foods in urban and rural communities across the U.S.” The release of the 2014 LSA data will be a great asset for the five CDFIs in the Refresh initiative. The data for these states are available in PolicyMap’s Analytics tab, as well as on the Refresh grantee websites. Click here to see Finance Fund’s LSA widget for the state of Ohio.

Along with this select release of the LSA, we are equally excited to announce that we have updated the Grocery Retail Locations data on PolicyMap with 2013 data! With these data, provided by Trade Dimensions, users are able to select and see only the limited-service stores or the full-service stores. We also included the ability to filter by type of grocery retail location, so you can see whether a site is a full supermarket, dollar store, natural/gourmet foods store, etc. Have fun exploring the availability of grocery retail locations in your neighborhood using the map below!

Also, it is worth noting that a full national release of the 2014 LSA analysis is expected in the spring. In the meantime, for users outside of the 5 Refresh states, the 2011 LSA will remain available for the whole nation on PolicyMap. This can also be found in PolicyMap’s Analytics tab.

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HMDA 2013 Data Now on PolicyMap

The eagerly-awaited 2013 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (or, HMDA) data has arrived on PolicyMap and is available to all of our users for free. We greatly anticipate the HMDA data update every year because it gives such a compelling account of what the mortgage market is doing and how it reflects the overall housing market’s climb out of the recession.

This year’s HMDA data did not lack for interesting trends. Across the nation, 2013 saw an overall decline of loans, but a promising 13% increase in purchase loans. The number declined overall primarily because of a 23% reduction in refinance mortgages, as a result of higher interest rates.
And after an increase in Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and other government-insured loans throughout the housing crisis, government-insured loans decreased in 2013, possibly due to a rise in mortgage insurance premiums associated with FHA loans. This trend is particularly remarkable because of FHA’s recent role in the housing market: just two years ago it accounted for around half of all loans in the market. Notably, high-cost lending that had dried up during the recession has begun to increase, albeit very gradually.

Data mapped by PolicyMap, an online GIS mapping tool.
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