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Posted by Ian Adams on Apr 27, 2017

How Does Tree Coverage Relate to Built and Natural Environment?

This post comes from Ian Adams, our undergraduate Service Learning intern this semester.

In light of Arbor Day this week, let’s talk trees in Indianapolis. As a whole, one-third of Indianapolis’s total land area is covered by tree canopy. Out of the 99 neighborhood areas in the city, 20 of them are at least 50% tree-covered. Among the highest tree-populated neighborhood areas are Eagle Creek, Lawrence-Fort Ben-Oaklandon, and Traders Point. However, not all of the highly wooded neighborhoods are large. Many of them are densely forested, smaller neighborhood areas such as Ravenswood, Crows Nest, and Forest Manor.

IndyVitals.org provides data on 99 neighborhood areas around Indianapolis. We will compare tree coverage to other indicators of the built and natural environment, like park access and permeability. We divided neighborhood areas into urban and rural, based if they mostly contained US Census defined “rural” census tracts or “urban” census tracts.

Permeable Surface (Water Penetrable)

A permeable surface lets rainwater soak into the ground, as opposed to surfaces like asphalt or roofs. Neighborhood areas with a high percentage of permeable surface have less stormwater runoff. Rain soaks into the ground rather than carrying pollutants like lawn chemicals, vehicle fluids, and agricultural chemicals to streams. Permeable surfaces help prevent combined sewer overflows, when heavy rains send untreated sewage into streams and rivers.

For urban neighborhood areas, there seems to be a possible relationship between tree coverage and permeability. For rural areas, however, there is not much of a relationship. In urban areas, open land may be more likely to have trees, but in rural areas open land can range from forest to farm.

In the chart above, 16 rural neighborhood areas are indicated by red and 83 urban neighborhood areas are indicated by green.

Walkability

A community’s walkability score indicates how easy it is for residents to travel around on foot from one place to another. The score is based on the presence of several elements: sidewalks, number of intersections, destinations, and public transportation. Noticeably, the most walkable area is Downtown. Other areas that score high are Broad Ripple, Near Eastside, and Forest Manor.

Walkability seems to have little relationship to tree coverage, even in urban neighborhood areas. This is an example of how the data driving the WalkScore may explain which areas are functional for pedestrians, but it cannot explain which areas are enjoyable for pedestrian. Because streets trees and other amenities can make walking more inviting and reduce the speed of traffic, it would be useful to have data that looks at the presence of trees, benches, and other amenities.

In the chart above, 16 rural neighborhood areas are indicated by red and 83 urban neighborhood areas are indicated by green.

Properties with Park Access

In rural neighborhood areas, those that rank high for park accessibility, such as Eagle Creek and Southeast Warren, have a dramatically higher percentage of trees than neighborhood areas with less accessibility to parks. For urban neighborhood areas there is no relationship between park access and tree coverage.

Why is the connection between trees and parks so strong in rural areas, but not in urban areas? The difference might be in what a park means in each context. Rural parks tend to be natural areas, and in Indiana that probably means forested areas. City parks can range from wooded parks to plazas. They even include facilities like White River Park and the Indianapolis Zoo, as well as all the parking at those sites. Rural parks may also tend to be larger than city parks, which means the characters of a city park would have less impact on the tree canopy of the neighborhood.

Conclusion

As Indianapolis continues to prosper from all corners of the city, it is important to keep the natural beauty that is already here in check. It is equally as important to keep trees in mind with future developments in every community. If you feel inclined to make a difference in cleaning up the city or polish up your planting skills, get in touch with organizations such as Keep Indy Beautiful (KIB). Teams of volunteers are constantly collaborating in countless projects to help Indianapolis thrive.  Check out the list of events that KIB has planned on their website in the near future and join the movement. KIB is also launching their Tree Canopy Planner and Mapping Tool on their website this Arbor Day. Check it out at http://www.kibi.org/. You can find out more about trees and other indicators in your community online at Indyvitals.org and SAVI.org.

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Posted by Allegra East on Mar 10, 2017

Social Media Coordinator

The Polis Center at IUPUI is seeking a talented individual who wants to make a difference. In this role, you will be promoting the SAVI Community Information System (SAVI), a free online data resource which helps nonprofit organizations, academia, and government agencies improve strategic planning and programming efforts. Your primary goal is to increase the visibility and awareness of SAVI.

In short, SAVI engages organizations by:

  • Identifying their data and information needs
  • Providing reliable, up-to-date facts about social, economic, and physical conditions of communities in Central Indiana and the Indianapolis Metro Area
  • Helping organizations interpret this information and use it for more effective decision-making, proposal writing, storytelling, and identifying gaps in service

Learn more about SAVI at www.savi.org. Related digital tools powered by SAVI include: www.indyvitals.org (nominated for the 2017 Mira Awards Innovation of the Year) www.indianaimpact.org, and www.edalliance.iupui.edu.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Develop frequent content about the SAVI community information system and its related digital tools for various social media platforms to help expand digital visibility and reach, grow digital audiences and engage new followers, and contribute toward online community development. We have SAVI presence on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
  • Regularly monitor and engage in social media activity using dashboards like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and Buffer (for Twitter).
  • Prepare and present social media analytics reports monthly to measure results against objectives.
  • Assist in writing website blog posts as needed.
  • Participate in project and brainstorming sessions and other assignments as directed.

Qualifications

  • Writing, editing, and communication expertise. Students majoring in public relations, journalism, communications, marketing, or a related field preferred.
  • Basic understanding of communication and marketing practices
  • Knack for digital communications and social media platforms (including but not limited to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram)
  • Curiosity and strong research aptitude
  • Good organizational skills
  • Creative, think “outside the box”
  • Working knowledge of search engine keywords and optimization
  • Take initiative while having the ability to work as part of a team
  • Competent in using MS Office applications, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
  • Proficiency in Adobe Creative Suite design application a plus

To Apply:  This is a paid position of 10-15 hours/week starting Summer 2017. Candidates available to continue working beyond the summer preferred but not required. Please submit a resume, cover letter, sample social media post, and one other writing sample to aleast@iupui.edu by April 1.  Please use the following identification in your email subject line: Social Media Coordinator.

The Polis Center at IUPUI offers free online data resources with the SAVI community information system and related digital tools to help nonprofits, academia, government, and health organizations assess trends and conditions, identify service gaps, and better target areas of concern based on the social, economic and other demographic realities in more than 2,000 Central Indiana communities. It is deeply committed to collaboration, partnerships, and the practical use of advanced technologies. Its entrepreneurial nature results in a unique and diverse range of projects. For more information, visit http://polis.iupui.edu/.

Indiana University is an equal employment and Affirmative Action Employer and a provider of ADA services. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, ethnicity, color, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or identity, marital status, national origin, disability status or protected veteran status.

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Posted by Allegra East on Mar 3, 2017

SAVI Community Assessment and Planning Tool

Assessing your community’s needs and assets is an important first step in planning community improvements. In fact, users report “community assessments” as the number one use of the SAVI community information system, helping them make more informed decisions about program priorities and identifying existing community resources.

We’ve made this process much simpler for you with the easy-to-use SAVI Community Assessment & Planning Tool. The big improvement is that it streamlines planning, pulling together the most critical demographic, socio-economic, and community asset data. It is the perfect resource to help you quickly identify areas of concern and disparities by race, age, gender, income, and education level.

How does this differ from SAVI’s other tools? It draws in the same detailed data you are accustomed to in SAVI, but it saves you the hassle of mining thousands of data options and from having to summarize your data and create custom charts and maps. This tool does it all for you, saving hours of data compilation.

Users walk through a basic community assessment framework, which provides data to support each step: assess needs, identify assets, and define gaps and opportunities. It allows you to define a custom geographic area, view dashboards, and drill into interactive data visualizations. The data format makes it easy for nonprofits to understand needs, socio-economic and geographic disparities, existing programming, and gaps in their service area.

The greatest innovation is that it generates a custom and updatable report containing the assessment data and visualizations for a chosen geography in Central Indiana in an editable MS Word format. You can then continue customizing it with your own data and narrative.  Please check it out!

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