Revolutionary 3-D PolicyMap is here!

While we are still working out the kinks to our 3-D technology and find a better way to distribute our 3-D glasses, we hope you take a look at our 3-Layer Maps feature which allows you to overlay data.

We hope you enjoyed the 1st of April. Please contact our team for any suggestions or feedback you might have (pmap@policymap.com). Who knows, maybe you could spark the next technological revolution at PolicyMap.

As you’ve probably noticed, PolicyMap underwent a little facelift recently, making it easier and more intuitive to use. Now that the upgrade is released, we’ve been trying to come up with even better ways to give our users the best experience possible. So we took the next logical step.

The future of mapping technology is here and it’s 3-D PolicyMap™.

We’ve always had the problem that we have over 15,000 indicators, but only one plane to view them on. By utilizing 3-D technology, we can better leverage the data we have to create maps that truly pop out at you.

Download our trademarked 3-D glasses to see 3-D PolicyMap on your computer: 3-D Glasses

BernieSee what our current users are saying about this great new feature!

“I can almost touch the data!” – Kavita Vijayan

“I’ve never seen demographic data like this before!” – Ira Goldstein

“Wow. So this is what you’ve been doing for the past five months.” – CEO Don Hinkle-Brown

But we’re not stopping here. Currently in beta is the new 4-D geo-aroma technology.

(Please note, 3-D PolicyMap works best with the Netscape Navigator v10 browser)



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Small Business Development Centers Now on PolicyMap

Let’s say you’ve just come up with a great new kind of ice cream. You’ve bought the ingredients in bulk, you have the ice cream maker, and you have cartons with an attractive design that will make people want to buy your ice cream. Everyone who tastes it says it’s great, and it’ll surely be a hit. The problem is, your skill is making ice cream, not running a small business.

One of the challenges with starting and running a small business is that a lack of guidance and business experience can hinder the business’s ability to succeed. Often, small businesses are run by people whose skills are specific to the service they offer or products they manufacture, and not by savvy businesspeople.

To help these businesses, the Small Business Administration runs Small Business Development Centers. SBDCs help small business and entrepreneurs with free business consulting and low-cost training services including business plan development, manufacturing assistance, financial packaging and lending assistance, exporting and importing support, disaster recovery assistance, procurement and contracting aid, market research help, 8(a) program support, and healthcare guidance. SBDCs are hosted by universities and state economic development agencies, and funded through a partnership with SBA.

Now on PolicyMap, you can see where these SBDCs are. For policymakers, it might be helpful to see where these SBDC services are being offered, as they might create clusters of successful small businesses. Alternatively, it might be useful to see what places lack easy access to an SBDC, as these areas might be good candidates for some sort of assistance for small businesses.

These points are free for all users and are in the “Federal Guidelines” menu on PolicyMap.



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Visualize Access to Health Care: Hospital Referral Regions

Much of PolicyMap’s health care data is mapped to states and counties. The use of health care, however, does not usually conform to these political boundaries. PolicyMap has added Hospital Referral Region and Hospital Service Areas to our mapping arsenal, so that users can paint a more accurate picture of health resources and care. These boundaries, developed by the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, were created using Medicare records. Hospital Service Areas are groups of zip codes from which local hospitals draw patients. Hospital Referral Regions, displayed with a black border on the map below, represent the areas where hospitals draw referrals for major procedures, such as cardiovascular surgery and neurosurgery.

Many Georgia residents travel to nearby Jacksonville and Tallahassee in Florida for medical care. The quality of care at the hospitals in these areas has an impact on health outcomes far beyond the counties where the hospitals are located. Add HRR and/or HSA boundaries to your map by clicking “map boundaries” on PolicyMap, and look for data mapped to these boundaries in the future.



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New Bankruptcy Data: Now at County Level

PolicyMap has long had data on bankruptcies, both business and non-business, but it had one frustrating limitation—it was only available at the state level. It was great for seeing how bankruptcies were affecting regions of the country, but not so great for seeing their effect at the local level.

Now, thanks to new data available from the U.S. courts system, we have bankruptcy data at the county level. It has data on total bankruptcies, business bankruptcies, and non-business bankruptcies. For non-business bankruptcies, you can see the data as a rate of bankruptcies per 1,000 adults, which is helpful because it’s normalized by population.

This data is available to all users, and can be found in the Incomes & Spending menu, under Additional Income & Spending Data.



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HMDA 2012 Data Now Available on PolicyMap

With the arrival of the 2012 update to the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, or HMDA, data on PolicyMap, we get to check out the latest information available about the performance of the mortgage market.  In 2012, originations rose modestly, with a 54% increase in refinance loans.  Looking at origination trends charts over the past years, the market seems to be tentatively rebounding from the mortgage market crisis of 2007-2009.

One technical note is that the 2012 data is available at the 2010 Census boundaries for the first time.  All previous years of data are available at the 2000 Census boundaries.  Thus, percent change calculations required a bridge table in order to make geographic comparisons between 2012 and previous years, which PolicyMap has provided, using the same methodology we used for Census 2010 and Census American Community Survey data.

We hope you’ll enjoy a few new indicators we’ve made available this year, in our Maps, Tables and 3-Layer Maps.  These include: percent changes for high-cost and prime loans since 2010 and loans by income categories and tract income categories.  You’ll see these indicators and our FHA lending data in our HMDA report in the next few weeks.  Be sure to contact us with any questions about these new indicators or any of the 2012 data; we love discussing the details and the usefulness of HMDA data!



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Philadelphia Childcare Map & Fund for Quality

Funded by the William Penn Foundation, TRF’s PolicyMap and Policy Solutions mapped the supply and demand of child care in Philadelphia—identifying where there are communities underserved by high-quality options. The free mapping tool can be accessed at www.childcaremap.org. Building on this analysis, TRF has partnered with the Public Health Management Corporation, also with funding from the William Penn Foundation, to expand high-quality early childhood education facilities to reach more low-income children. A first-of-its-kind local initiative, the Fund for Quality will be a $7 million effort to provide a new source of capital and planning services for high-quality providers. See coverage on NBC10 and WHYY.

Read the full press release here!

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State Minimum Wage, Now On PolicyMap

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. There’s been much in the news lately about whether this is sufficient income to live off of, whether to raise it, and what the effects of that would be.

Right now, not every state has the same minimum wage. Some states have legislated minimum wages higher than the federal minimum. The state of Washington has the highest, at $9.32. Some states actually have lower minimum wages, but they’re superseded by the federal minimum.

Since so many are talking about the role the minimum wage plays on the economy and its workers, we decided to add that as an indicator on PolicyMap.

This data, which comes from the U.S. Department of Labor, shows the effective minimum wage in each state. There are some municipalities, such as San Francisco, that have higher minimum wages than their states, but this is not shown in the data since it’s not reported by the Department of Labor.

This data is free to all users, and is accessible in the Incomes & Spending menu.

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Childcare Maps spotlighted by NBC10

childcare-map-logoThe Reinvestment Fund’s Policy Solutions, PolicyMap, and Lending teams have been working together to increase access to high-quality childcare in Philadelphia.

The William Penn Foundation made a grant to TRF to develop comprehensive information about the availability of high-quality early childhood education in Philadelphia and the accessibility of child care for families with low-incomes. TRF’s analysis is accessible through ChildcareMap (www.childcaremap.org), which is hosted by PolicyMap.

As the next phase, TRF, along with Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) and the William Penn Foundation, are announcing a new partnership to finance the expansion of high-quality early childhood education (ECE) facilities in Philadelphia called the Fund for Quality (www.fundforquality.org).

Watch NBC10′s coverage of the Childcare Maps tool here:

and read the whole report here.



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Take a quick tour of maps today!

Nicole-Quote

What’s not to love? Full screen maps, interactive legends, easy-to-use-data menus, and simple sharing tools. The new PolicyMap maps page makes working with maps fun. You, too, may even want to give it a hug!

The Quick Start will show you how to search for specific addresses, locations or census tracts, find and add data to your map, use the identify tool to see the data behind the map and use the features loaded into the legend.

Read the complete maps tutorial here.

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March Mapness Is Here!

It’s March Mapness time! As Harvard celebrates its advancement to the second round of the basketball tournament, it’s the perfect opportunity to give a special salute of encouragement to the schools in the round of 64 who are also PolicyMap subscribers. Nine teams in the tournament have university site licenses: Harvard, Pittsburgh, UCLA, Syracuse, New Mexico, Michigan State, Arizona, American, and the University of Massachusetts. And, an additional five are currently engaged in a PolicyMap trial subscription! So, altogether, nearly a quarter of the teams have access to PolicyMap data and analysis through their universities!

Undoubtedly, these teams have succeeded because of their emphasis on location awareness, both on the court and in the world.

If your school is interested in giving your students the opportunity to learn how to analyze data without having to collect it or use expensive mapping software, email us at info@policymap.com about signing up for a free PolicyMap site license trial today!

Good luck to the Orange, the Bruins, the Lobos, the Panthers, and all the other university teams that also love online data and mapping!

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