PolicyMap Updates for October

Here’s a list of the data we’ve updated over the past month:

Lending
Bank Branches, 2015 (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation)
Bank Failures, 2015 (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation)

Quality of Life
NEW! Museums, 2015 (Institute of Museum and Library Services)

Economy
Unemployment, September 2015 (Bureau of Labor Statistics Local Area Unemployment Statistics)

Education
Head Start Centers, 2015 (Head Start)
Public Schools: Enrollment and Demographics, 2013-2014 (National Center for Education Statistics)

Federal Guidelines
Promise Zones, 2015 (Department of Housing and Urban Development)

Posted in Monthly Updates | Leave a comment

Mapchats: Watch the PolicyMap in the Classroom Webinar

Did you miss the PolicyMap in the Classroom webinar? Want to see the slides our presenters used? We updated our blog post to include the full webinar recording and each presenter’s slides.


We’ve heard you loud and clear: you love mapping, and you’d like a simple way of incorporating it into your syllabus. Let us help you include mapping in your lesson plans as we hear from two prominent professors about various ways of using PolicyMap in the classroom.  Join us on October 19, 2015 from 3-4 pm EDT for the next webinar in our Mapchats series.  Hear from Dr. Carolina Reid of the University of California at Berkeley as she discusses her use of PolicyMap in her Urban Studies course on environmental, economic and social issues.  And join Dr. Russell McIntire of Thomas Jefferson University as he describes his use of PolicyMap for teaching map-making skills to visualize community-based public health data for his Public Health class.

russell-mcintireDr. Russell K. McIntire, Assistant Professor, Jefferson College of Population Health (JCPH) at Thomas Jefferson University: Dr. McIntire received his doctorate in Health Behavior and his Master of Public Health at Indiana University School of Public Health- Bloomington. His major research interests include identifying and analyzing the social, behavioral, and geographic risk factors of substance use among adolescents and other vulnerable populations. In addition to his research, Dr. McIntire teaches epidemiology, social and behavioral theory, and geographic information systems (GIS) classes in the JCPH Master of Public Health program.


carolina-reidDr. Carolina Reid, Assistant Professor, Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of California at Berkeley: Carolina specializes in housing and community development, with a specific focus on access to credit, homeownership and wealth inequality. She has most recently published research on the impact of the foreclosure crisis on low-income and minority communities, the role of the Community Reinvestment Act during the subprime crisis, and the importance of anti-predatory lending laws for consumer protection. Carolina is particularly interested in interdisciplinary research and the integration of qualitative and quantitative methods.

Posted in Mapchats | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Update on how printouts work

You might have noticed that prints work a bit different now. It’s not a big change yet, but it’s a first step before a much bigger update to come. But here’s how printing has changed for now:

You no longer have to wait for the alerts in the top right corner to popup to be able to download your file. Downloads now happen in the browser, and it usually takes a few seconds or more for file to appear. If your file is taking a bit too long, refresh the browser and that should trigger the download.

PrintMap-20150930

Options for printing remain the same for now: customize the name to give your map a title, select the orientation of the layout, and pick whether to shade the whole map or just your area.

The format types (i.e. PDF, PNG, or JPEG) are also the same, but you can choose only one format.

All printouts will still save to your My Saved Work section, so you can retrieve a copy later.

Our university and site license users benefit from this new function the most. Printouts now immediately download to your desktop, and you no longer have to go to Saved Work to download.

Posted in Support, Data & Features, Support and Issues | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Stories Behind Data: Clinton County Catastrophe

DHL_PlaneOften when we think of disasters we think of environmental disasters. But economic disasters can also devastate a community. These disasters often take the form of a giant spike in the unemployment rate. Few counties understand this better than Clinton County, Ohio, a county that was devastated by the closing of its biggest employer in 2009. While the county was recovering in 2013, I was an intern for its Chamber of Commerce and I learned about the county’s story from the local residents. I will use PolicyMap’s economic data to tell the story.

Right before the disaster in 2009, Clinton County’s workforce was heavily concentrated in the transportation and warehouse industry. In 2008, according to the Census Bureau, over 40% of Clinton County’s jobs were in the transportation and warehousing industry. No county in Ohio had similar levels of concentration in this industry. In fact, the county ranked second in terms of percentage of its workforce in this industry in the United States. It was safe to say that when the transportation and warehousing industry does not do well, the Clinton County workforce will not do well. Continue reading

Posted in Mapchats Blog | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Mapchats – Watch the Neighborhood Rx Webinar

Couldn’t attend the webinar last week? Attended but wanted to see the Mapchats magic all over again? Either way, you’re in luck. We put together a blog post that includes the full webinar recording and each presenter’s slides.

Watch the webinar recording below:

 

patrick_sullivanPATRICK SULLIVAN is a Professor of Epidemiology at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, and Co-Director of the Prevention Sciences Core at Emory’s Center for AIDS Research (CFAR). Dr. Sullivan’s research focuses on HIV among men who have sex with men, including behavioral research, interventions, and surveillance. Previously, Dr. Sullivan worked as the Chief of the Behavioral and Clinical Surveillance Branch at CDC, implementing HIV research studies and surveillance systems to meet critical local, state and national HIV prevention needs. He is the PI of NIH-funded studies to determine reasons for black/white disparities in HIV among MSM, to pilot HIV prevention packages among MSM in South Africa, to evaluate distribution of at-home HIV test kits to MSM in the US, and to develop and test a comprehensive mobile prevention app for gay and bisexual men. He is also the Principal Scientist of AIDSVu.org and HIVContinuum.org.

 

 


 

arti_virkudARTI VIRKUD is a data analyst for the Population Health Team at the Bureau of the Primary Care Information Project at the New York City (NYC) Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. She works on epidemiological research using aggregate data from NYC ambulatory practices. Her research ranges from chronic disease studies on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and falls risk in older adults to infectious disease projects on tuberculosis and HIV prevention. She has a BS in neuroscience from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MPH in epidemiology from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

 

 


 

morgan_robinsonMORGAN ROBINSON is a data analyst at PolicyMap. She has applied and developed her skills in data processing and mapping with community-based and advocacy organizations in Detroit, Seattle, and New York. She comes to PolicyMap from Data Driven Detroit, a nonprofit data provider for Southeast Michigan, where she provided research and analysis to support local neighborhood and environmental initiatives. Through her experience, she gained an understanding of how leaders and policymakers use data to make smart and effective decisions. Morgan earned a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies and Political Science from Columbia University, and a Master’s degree in Community Development from the University of Detroit Mercy.

 

 

To check out previous Mapchats recordings, visit: Mapchats

Posted in Mapchats, Mapchats Blog | Leave a comment

County Subdivisions: The Secret Geography

Census tracts get all the glory. As do block groups, ZIP codes, counties, and states. But what if I told you, there’s an amazing geography you’ve probably never used?

Enter county subdivisions. They are smaller than counties (duh), and larger than most census tracts and ZIP codes. They’re better known as townships, towns, cities, districts, boroughs, barrios, villages, plantations (not those plantations—they’re in Maine), municipalities, subdistricts, reservations, counties (which are not the same as counties), grants, purchases, locations, gores (!?), and islands. These are all minor civil divisions (MCDs), meaning they’re legal – not just statistical – entities.

Some states don’t have minor civil divisions, so the Census just draws up their own subdivisions, calling them Census county divisions (CCDs) and Census subareas. Some states with minor civil divisions have areas with no legally established MCD; the Census defines those as unorganized territories (UTs). These are all purely statistical entities, with no local legal recognition.

Cheltenham_PA_township_seal.svgI grew up in Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania. It has its own police department and school district, and is governed by a Board of Commissioners. All the street signs are blue and gold (go Panthers!). If I wanted statistical information about it, looking at Montgomery County as a whole wouldn’t be too useful, since it’s much bigger and geographically diverse. I could look at the smaller census tracts that are inside of Cheltenham, but that would only tell you about its different parts. For a look at the township, the whole township, and nothing but the township, county subdivisions would be the way to go.

Everything else you could possibly want to know about county subdivisions is here: https://www.census.gov/geo/reference/gtc/gtc_cousub.html.

So why are these geographies so “secret”?

  • Shade byYou don’t see county subdivisions by default on PolicyMap. To see data shown at the county subdivision level, you have to go to the “Shade by” menu in the legend, and click on it. Not all data is available at this level, but Census and American Community Survey data is. Some data, like HUD’s Fair Market Rent data, is available primarily at county subdivisions.
  • If you want to search for a county subdivision, you can just type it into the Location search bar. Though it won’t show up in the suggestions menu, if you type the name and state, and press enter, it’ll find it. (They don’t appear in the suggestions menu simply because there are so many geography types, we have to draw the line somewhere to keep the menu from being overwhelming.)
  • Why don’t they show up by default when you zoom in on PolicyMap? Most people want to see the smallest, most granular geography available, and when you zoom in close enough to see county subdivisions, you can generally see census tracts as well (and census tracts get all the glory).
  • We’ve recently made a change to how county subdivisions appear on PolicyMap when you load map boundaries (from that little menu under the map). On the map, the labels used to just give the name, without the legal suffix (so, just “Cheltenham”). Eagle-eyed PolicyMap users will notice that the legal suffix is now displayed as well (“Cheltenham Township”)Subdivisions on the map

County subdivisions (or “cousubs,” as we like to call them) are a pretty great geography type that’s easy to overlook. Next time you want data for a township (or the like), check them out.

Posted in Data & Features, Mapchats Blog | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Internet Is on PolicyMap (and Vice Versa!)

Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you have a high-speed internet connection. I remember my family’s first DSL connection. I was in 8th grade, and the internet flowed in at a glorious 768 kilobits per second. Today, that might not be enough to watch a good cat video.

Of course, high-speed internet is important for a lot more than sharing vacation pictures and cat videos. It’s often essential for things like finding a job, managing money, doing school work, reading news, and basic communication. Without broadband internet, you wouldn’t be able to access PolicyMap!

With internet becoming almost as essential as electricity and phone service, it’s important to see where it’s in limited supply. The National Broadband Map (NBM) is a geographic database with that information. Created by the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, it collects data on all broadband internet services provided throughout the country. It tells the name of the provider, the technology type (cable, fiber optic, wireless, etc.), the speed, and the area served.

The data is provided at the block level (which is even smaller than block groups). With this granular data, we can look at a lot of interesting maps:

Availability


Continue reading

Posted in Data & Features, Dataset Announcements, Quality of Life | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Mapchats – Neighborhood Rx: Mapping Community Health

Mapchats: Neighborhood Rx
Curious about how disease rates can be measured at a local level? Hear from public health researchers at Emory University and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene about their use of data to understand disparities and improve care and community well-being.

Join us for another installment of our popular Mapchats series on September 23, 2015 to discuss the challenges and opportunities of putting local health on the map. This webinar will feature Patrick Sullivan, MD of Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, Arti Virkud, MPH from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and Morgan Robinson from PolicyMap. Panelists will discuss how researchers can transform administrative records and other data into compelling maps that highlight community health disparities and lead to better policy decisions.

Save your seat today!

patrick_sullivanPATRICK SULLIVAN is a Professor of Epidemiology at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, and Co-Director of the Prevention Sciences Core at Emory’s Center for AIDS Research (CFAR). Dr. Sullivan’s research focuses on HIV among men who have sex with men, including behavioral research, interventions, and surveillance. Previously, Dr. Sullivan worked as the Chief of the Behavioral and Clinical Surveillance Branch at CDC, implementing HIV research studies and surveillance systems to meet critical local, state and national HIV prevention needs. He is the PI of NIH-funded studies to determine reasons for black/white disparities in HIV among MSM, to pilot HIV prevention packages among MSM in South Africa, to evaluate distribution of at-home HIV test kits to MSM in the US, and to develop and test a comprehensive mobile prevention app for gay and bisexual men. He is also the Principal Scientist of AIDSVu.org and HIVContinuum.org.

arti_virkudARTI VIRKUD is a data analyst for the Population Health Team at the Bureau of the Primary Care Information Project at the New York City (NYC) Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. She works on epidemiological research using aggregate data from NYC ambulatory practices. Her research ranges from chronic disease studies on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and falls risk in older adults to infectious disease projects on tuberculosis and HIV prevention. She has a BS in neuroscience from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MPH in epidemiology from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

morgan_robinsonMORGAN ROBINSON is a data analyst at PolicyMap. She has applied and developed her skills in data processing and mapping with community-based and advocacy organizations in Detroit, Seattle, and New York. She comes to PolicyMap from Data Driven Detroit, a nonprofit data provider for Southeast Michigan, where she provided research and analysis to support local neighborhood and environmental initiatives. Through her experience, she gained an understanding of how leaders and policymakers use data to make smart and effective decisions. Morgan earned a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies and Political Science from Columbia University, and a Master’s degree in Community Development from the University of Detroit Mercy.

Posted in Mapchats, Mapchats Blog | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What’s New at APDU

APDULast week, three of us from PolicyMap went to the annual APDU Conference in Washington, DC. APDU is the Association of Public Data users, so the APDU Conference is basically our Super Bowl. The conference is full of data providers (lots of Census people), users, and groups like us who are somewhere in the middle. Our own Elizabeth Nash moderated a panel on using public data alongside private sector data.

For all of you who weren’t able to attend, here are a few of the trends we saw discussed at this year’s conference:

Big Data is Here

This trend has been brewing for a while, but this year, it seems like we’ve reached the point where users of public data are looking at Big Data as a legitimate resource. What’s the difference between public data and Big Data? We’ve covered this before, but in short, public data is the sort of data you see on PolicyMap: government-collected datasets like those from the Census and BLS, which are aggregated over a geographic area (like a county). Big Data tends to come from private sources, like Google or Facebook, and often goes down to the individual level (though the public can’t access this data). It’s how Google Flu came along, where Google tracked the prevalence of the flu through user searches. (Unfortunately, Google Flu turned out to be generally inaccurate, which is a common symptom of Big Data.)

But as Big Data becomes more prevalent and available, researchers are finding that it’s an invaluable resource, because unlike public government data, it’s available in real time (how many people are Tweeting about looking for a job right now?). Georgetown University provost Robert M. Groves suggested in his keynote that “datasets” as we know them will soon be a thing of the past. Instead of a file of scientifically collected data, we’ll be turning to Twitter, Google, Facebook, and the like. But, as Google Flu taught us, we’re still finding our way.

Public Data and Private Data Can Work Together
(Since Elizabeth Nash led a panel discussion on this topic, she’s uniquely qualified to write this section)

One of the highlights of the APDU Conference this year was the emphasis on seamlessly incorporating various data sources in research projects, online tools, and advocacy work. I had the opportunity to moderate a panel of my own design on how publicly available data is being used alongside private sector information.

Elizabeth Nash, Keith Wardrip, David Norris, and Nima Nattagh, talking data

Elizabeth Nash, Keith Wardrip, David Norris, and Nima Nattagh, talking data

Our three speakers came from very different backgrounds and offered fascinating perspectives on their experiences with using proprietary, purchased data to complement free, public data. Keith Wardrip, Community Development Research Manager at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, walked us through his research on employer demand for workers and opportunity occupations using online job posting data that the Fed purchased from Burning Glass Technologies, Occupational Employment Statistics from the BLS, Current Population Survey from the Census and BLS, and more. Nima Nattagh, Manager of Analytics at Verisk Analytics explained to us how insurance companies have taken publicly available data and made the data proprietary. And David Norris, of the Kirwan Institute at the Ohio State University, discussed their Opportunity Mapping framework, and how both publicly available data and proprietary data estimates contribute to their indices. He also provided a cautionary tale of mapping proprietary data without checking it against publicly available data, which was quite provocative and thoughtful.

A meaningful Q&A followed, which culminated into a discussion of the benefits and dangers of limiting access and charging fees for proprietary and value-added public data.

Congress Is Threatening Cuts

One thing about public government data is that it comes from, well, the government. And as you may have heard, there’s been a lot of disagreement in Washington on the role of the federal government, and its various agencies. Proposed budgets are slashing funding for agencies like Census, BLS, and others. BLS has already cut some of its data products, like Mass Layoff Statistics, and Census discontinued its released of 3-year ACS estimates (PolicyMap uses the 5-year estimates). It’s considered unlikely that these proposed budgets will make it through both houses of Congress, but the possibility exists.

Also being proposed is an effort to end mandatory responses to the ACS. Right now, if you get an ACS form in the mail, by law, you have to fill out the 28-page survey, which some consider onerous and invasive. However, without this requirement, the quality of the data decreases substantially, and it becomes more expensive to collect. Canada recently made its census voluntary, with disastrous results. Again, this effort is considered unlikely to be signed by the president, but it’s being discussed.

Posted in News, Conferences, Mapchats Blog, PolicyMap News and Events | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Understanding FEMA Disaster Declarations

Natural disasters are “in” right now. Hurricane season is picking up, people in New Orleans and across the globe are commemorating the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and residents of the West Coast are growing increasingly anxious about the next big earthquake. A recent feature in the New York Times visualizes the physical and economic impact of natural disasters throughout the country.

We’ve added the locations of federally-declared disaster areas to PolicyMap, and we hope this new data makes it easier to look at natural and man-made disasters in a policy context. These designations are from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). They are represented as polygons made up of clusters of counties and American Indian/Alaska Native Areas/Hawaiian Home Lands where state governments have requested and received federal aid for a disaster. Disasters from the past five years (2010 – 2014) are included on PolicyMap in the Quality of Life menu. The map below shows floods:


Continue reading

Posted in Dataset Announcements, Quality of Life | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment