Good Data Drives Good Investment Decisions

MemberSpeak: The Reinvestment Fund
Good Data Drives Good Investment Decisions

by Maggie McCollough and Jeremy Nowak, The Reinvestment Fund

The Reinvestment Fund (TRF), a leading community development financial institution active throughout the mid-Atlantic, , recently launched PolicyMap– an online mapping application for policymakers, lending institutions, foundations, government agencies, developers, and other civic investors.

Why did TRF develop PolicyMap?

For almost 10 years, TRF has conducted research for foundations, local and state governments, and civic groups in order to help these institutions make better public policy and investment decisions. Geographic analysis, in particular, allowed us to help

state governments understand the types of neighborhoods most impacted by foreclosures; enabled city governments to analyze neighborhood conditions and markets as a way of allocating limited resources; and helped foundations to understand the types of neighborhoods in which they are making investments.

Over time, we started to dream about serving interactive maps on the web for our clients and partners – along with the public – as an alternative to generating static, paper maps. We explored a number of ways to build PolicyMap and chose to work with Placebase, the developer of Pushpin™, a powerful platform for the development of professional web applications in mapping, business geographics, and location-based services.

It is our hope that PolicyMap will encourage institutions from all over the country to use data to target investments and refine their strategies to preserve and rebuild vulnerable communities. By just going online, pulling up a map and clicking on a shaded area, institutions now have the ability to quickly understand neighborhoods in which they are making investments, evaluate neighborhoods for potential investments and see how neighborhoods have changed over time.

What is PolicyMap?

4,000 indicators related to demographics, real estate markets, crime, schools, housing affordability, employment, energy, and public investments. (Hence, our tag line “All the data you need, all in one place, all online.”!) We’ll regularly update the data that is in PolicyMap and will continue to add new datasets including detailed school performance statistics, health indicators, and more affordable housing information.

This article appeared in the ICIC Newsletter in June 2008.