This month Enterprise Center has hosted a free Community Mapping program with Free Online Software and Simple GIS. The workshop was hands-on and geared towards helping community planners, economic developers and community organizers learn to analyze locational data, and create both interactive web maps and static paper / PDF maps. Here is a bit more on Community Mapping and how this practice can help you.
What is Community Mapping?
Community Mapping is generally understood to mean a visual, geographic representation of community characteristics. However, the term can also be used in a conceptual sense, to mean an inventory of information with or without a visual representation.
The basic objectives to Community Mapping aim at collecting data in order to create a map of community assets and resources within a defined area. A community map highlights people, physical structures, organizations, and institutions that can be utilized to create a meaningful service project.
The benefits of resource mapping are many. Specifically, the resource mapping process can help a community (1) gain in-depth information about an agency’s policies, procedures, funding streams, and collaborative practices, (2) identify opportunities and challenges for meeting the transition needs of youth with disabilities, and (3) provide a comprehensive set of policy recommendations across agencies, along with opportunities for inter-agency collaboration. In addition Community Mapping can be beneficial at:
- Identification of new resources to develop, enhance, and sustain goals
- Determination of whether existing resources are being used effectively to achieve expected outcomes;
- Improved alignment and coordination of resources
- Enhanced coordination and collaboration among stakeholders with relevant resources and
- Development of new policies and legislation to better meet goals and objectives.
Geographic data from different easily accessible sources include: the U.S. Census Bureau, the state of Massachusetts, and Google. Online mapping tools can include: Google Maps, American Factfinder, Social Explorer, and Mango Maps GIS. Whether the need is to map batches of addresses, make better presentation graphics, evaluate demographic or land use trends online mapping and GIS tools are now readily available and simple to use.