SAVI seeks to provide vital context for the social and economic realities in Central Indiana communities.
This is why members of our SAVI team also work with our data sets and analytics tools to create unique, comprehensive reports that reveal trends and help us all better identify community needs and improve access to crucial services. Check out the custom community reports below:
WHO RIDES THE BUS: Examining Transit Ridership in Marion County
We were curious to know more about ridership characteristics in Indianapolis, particularly on the heels of the successful vote by the Indiana General Assembly in 2016 to enact a tax dedicated to transit in order to improve the city’s services. We combined information from the recent IndyGo survey with a variety of neighborhood socio-economic factors from the SAVI community information system to better understand how and why certain groups of riders used the service. Our new report, Who Rides the Bus: Examining Transit Ridership in Marion County, provides general audiences with an informed geographic approach to transit to see how place plays into the equation.
Unequal Access: Tobacco Retail in the Indianapolis Metro Area
Retail access to various smoking products is an important consideration when discussing community action to improve a community’s health. Studies show that tobacco outlet density and proximity are linked to tobacco use–particularly in poor areas. We used socioeconomic data culled from the SAVI community information system to examine the density and proximity of tobacco outlets relative to vulnerable communities in Marion County. The report serves as a companion piece to the IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health’s September 2016 Report on the Tobacco Epidemic in Marion County and Indiana!
The Affordable Housing Market and Why It Matters
Several publications have cited Indianapolis as a city with a high degree of home ownership. In partnership with The Polis Center at IUPUI, urban analyst John Marron looked more deeply into the issue of affordable housing in Central Indiana. The findings are published in the report, The Affordable Housing Market and Why It Matters. The report highlights a central theme: that affordable housing in Central Indiana encompasses a broader range of economic issues than the price of a home.
Our September 14 SAVI Talks! program, WHO RIDES THE BUS: Examining Transit Ridership in Marion County, addressed a timely and interesting topic regarding public transit in Indianapolis. The event showcased findings from The Polis Center’s newest report, WHO RIDES THE BUS: Examining Transit Ridership in Marion County.
Kudos to report co-authors Kelly Davila, MS, Senior Research Analyst; Matt Nowlin, MURP, Research Analyst; Unai Miguel Andres, MS, SAVI GIS technician; and Debra Hollon, MS, GIS Analyst, who compiled a rich and meaningful report.
They combined information from the recent IndyGo survey with a variety of neighborhood socio-economic factors from the SAVI community information system to better understand how and why certain groups of riders used the service. The report provides general audiences with an informed geographic approach to transit to see how place plays into the equation.
Attendees also learned more about IndyGo’s expansion of transit service in Indianapolis through the implementation of the Marion County Transit Plan from Bryan Luellen, Vice President of Public Affairs, IndyGo.
Another highlight of the morning was the excellent discussion let by moderator Matt Shafer Powell, Chief Content Officer, WFYI, on related report concerns from various perspectives by esteemed panelists: Karissa Hulse, Director of Development & Operations, IndyHub; James Taylor, Executive Director, John H. Boner Community Center; and Michael Twyman, PhD, Principal/Owner of InExcelsis Consulting.
Takeaways from the program include:
- Half of the riders at this time commute to and from work, especially those with lower income.
- Riders are a cross-section of people from nearly every neighborhood and economic status in Indianapolis. Some people rely on bus service in a life-sustaining way; others are becoming more willing to use it, but it is evident that is a different choice system.
- Riding the bus is to a degree a social justice issue in Indianapolis.
- Use of transit promotes economic mobility and improves educational, housing, and health outcomes.
- Transit promotes social mobility, reducing social isolation by providing a link to shopping and social activities.
- We need to work on changing the perception of using public transit in Indianapolis. It is simply a means to get about, an affordable transportation option particularly when combined with affordable housing, and it connects people and the community.
- The motivating factors for people moving back downtown is very different from what it used to be. These typically younger individuals are more inclusive and tolerant of differences and consider viable public transit for everybody the number one most important issue in their decision to stay in Indianapolis long-term. They want to choose transit but frequency, safety, and comfort are deciding factors.
If you missed the event, you may enjoy the PowerPoint presentations of Bryan Luellen and Kelly Davila and Matt Nowlin and download the report.
Most importantly, we thank our program partners: IndyGo, the Metropolitan Planning Organization, WFYI, The Polis Center at IUPUI, the IUPUI School of Liberal Arts, and IUPUI.
Worlds Apart: Gaps in Life Expectancy in the Indianapolis Metro Area
Article You May Have Missed: The April 11, 2016 issue of the The New York Times featured the article, “The Rich Live Longer Everywhere. For the Poor, Geography Matters.” This topic resonates with the Polis Center and SAVI as we prepared a report on a similar topic, “Worlds Apart: Gaps in Life Expectancy in the Indianapolis Metro Area,” on July 15, 2015. Worlds Apart: Gaps in Life Expectancy in the Indianapolis Metro Area was produced by the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) in partnership with The Polis Center at IUPUI for the SAVI Community Information System. Report authors included: Tess D. Weathers, Tamara G.J. Leech, Lisa K. Staten, Elizabeth Alice Adams, Jay T. Colbert, and Karen Frederickson Comer.
The Times story references work published in the April issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, which compared research on the life expectancy of 40-year-olds with household incomes below $28,000, adjusted for race. According to the article, “One conclusion from this work…is that the gap in life spans between rich and poor widened from 2001 to 2014. The top 1 percent in income among American men live 15 years longer than the poorest 1 percent; for women, the gap is 10 years. These rich Americans have gained three years of longevity just in this century. They live longer almost without regard to where they live. Poor Americans had very little gain as a whole, with big differences among different places.”
Indiana is mentioned in an interactive feature embedded in the article exploring life expectancy in one’s own area as having one of the lowest life expectancy rates in the country. It notes, “In Marion County, the poor will die about 9 years before the rich. That’s roughly equivalent to the difference in life expectancy between an average man in the United States and one in Somalia. It is about 2 years more than the gap for the United States as a whole.”
This unfortunate news correlates with the research and report prepared by the Polis Center and SAVI: “Nearly one-fourth of the ZIP codes in the Indianapolis Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)–25 of 104 analyzed–home to roughly 385,000 people, have life expectancies below the 1990 U.S. average (75.4 years) – demonstrating more than a 20 year lag behind the country overall. In the metro Indy community with the lowest life expectancy, a baby born today can expect to live only as long as a baby born in the U.S. more than 60 years ago. Our results demonstrate that the benefits of progress have not been actualized in many communities of metro Indy. There is a gap of six years of life expectancy between the highest and lowest ranking counties in the MSA. While Hamilton and Madison Counties share a border, they stand out in contrast to one another; Hamilton has the highest county life expectancy, while Madison has the lowest.”
Click the links above for both articles and think about the findings on national and local levels that social and economic policies are the underlying drivers of the discrepancy and the fact that health and the length of one’s life cannot be separated from the societal context in which people live.