The Polis Center at IUPUI, in partnership with the City of Indianapolis, and the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee, are pleased to announce IndyVitals, a geospatial tool that measures the health and sustainability of neighborhood areas in Marion County, has been awarded a prestigious national award for improving the delivery and quality of government services.
IndyVitals, a legacy of Plan 2020 built by The Polis Center at IUPUI and powered by the SAVI community information system, is a 2017 recipient of the Exemplary Systems in Government Awards from URISA, a multi-disciplinary geospatial organization that fosters excellence in geographic information systems (GIS).
The user-friendly digital tool was recognized by URISA for solving a problem facing local organizations from multiple sectors: telling a common story and making meaningful comparisons about particular neighborhoods. It is unique for its ability to coordinate actions of community development partners through data and measure the long-term impact of the work of Plan 2020 partners at the neighborhood level.
“As city planning becomes more decentralized and democratized, IndyVitals allows us to carry on the spirit of coordination and cooperation coming out of the Plan 2020 process by empowering residents with a simple interface to engage complicated datasets within common geographies. This allows all partners working to build a better city to see the same story for the same place and prioritize their work accordingly,” said Brad Beaubien, Administrator of Long Range Planning, Department of Metropolitan Development.
IndyVitals is an excellent resource for organizations involved in quality of life, social services and economic development. The tool is specifically used by city government to target investments to areas based on need. Community development corporations use the tool to justify the need for investments in their communities, social service providers use the tool to better understand the need for cross-sector collaboration to improve outcomes, and the tool empowers community organizers with data to prioritize community-improvement efforts that build upon existing community assets.
The award summary noted that IndyVitals, is “a thoughtful, deliberate and intentional data mash-up product” that “combined with high ease of use and an attractive visual appeal … makes it an excellent urban planning and neighborhood assessment tool.”
“It is an honor that URISA has recognized IndyVitals, as winner in the 2017 enterprise system category,” said David Bodenhamer, executive director of The Polis Center at IUPUI. “The collaboration with the City of Indianapolis and the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee to develop a tool to support the City’s 2020 bicentennial aligns diverse planning partners toward a common goal, coordinating their actions through data. This innovative neighborhood monitoring tool is proving to be a useful solution for organizations from multiple sectors in making Indianapolis a great place to live and work.”
The award competition was open to all public agencies at the federal, state/provincial, regional and local levels. IndyVitals was officially recognized during the URISA awards ceremony October 25 in Jacksonville, Florida. You may view the IndyVitals awards video and all the winners here.
This is the second component of Plan 2020 to receive a national award. Discover more about your piece of Marion County at indyvitals.org.
On October 11-13, the Polis Center at IUPUI will host the semi-annual meeting of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP), a network of independent data intermediaries across the US that have a shared mission to help community stakeholders use neighborhood-level data for better decision-making.
Eighty people representing 34 cities, along with other national leaders in community information, will gather in Indianapolis to learn how data are being used to improve the quality of life for residents in Indianapolis and other partner cities. The Polis Center at IUPUI has been a member of NNIP since 1999 and hosted the conference previously in 2007. Polis developed one of the first comprehensive online and interactive neighborhood indicators systems created for any city called SAVI. SAVI (Social Assets and Vulnerabilities Indicators) is now one of the nation’s largest community information systems and allows people to explore and map social issues such as poverty and education across neighborhoods and other geographies. Its goal is to provide actionable data to inform local decisions and policies.
Highlights from this year’s event include presentations from partner organizations from Rice University in Houston, TX and The Data Center of New Orleans discussing the critical role of data in the immediate aftermath and long-term recovery from hurricanes and other natural disasters. An Indianapolis panel of leaders from United Way of Central Indiana, John Boner Community Center, City of Indianapolis, and Parkview Health will share challenges and successes in their move toward a data informed culture. Attendees also will learn how to build a data-driven community and how to employ user-centered design.
NNIP combines local expertise with the power of a national peer-learning network to strengthen communities. The local partner organizations are skilled in organizing and transforming data and have developed neighborhood indicators across many topics that are kept to date. All partners have a focus on assisting organizations and residents in low-income communities. With expertise on a range of issues, NNIP partners act as conveners to connect nonprofits and government agencies across policy domains. NNIP is supported and coordinated by the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan research organization in Washington DC. All the network activities are grounded in Urban’s decades of social and economic policy analyses. Urban elevates the collective experience from NNIP to inform local and national policy.
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.