Equity and geographical data

After Jennifer Alford-Teaster’s amazing Talking Data Equity session about mapping, I wanted to start a thread for other equity and mapping resources!

Here are some related resources I like and have used:

  • The Public Health Disparities Geocoding Project from Harvard, which has information on “why & how to analyze population health and health inequities in relation to census tract, county, and other georeferenced societal and environmental data,” including theory, examples, and example R code.
  • The Decolonial Atlas, a group that creates maps and shares maps created by others about a variety of social issues from a decolonial lens, which often involves deconstructing many of the things most of us automatically do when mapping (such as including colonial borders and place names).
  • The Tyranny of the Map: Rethinking Redlining. One thing that’s particularly interesting about using GIS software to map health outcomes in the US is that it’s relatively easy to layer on historical redlining boundaries. I found this article really impactful about rethinking focusing too much on those boundaries. I originally found this article from Dr. Arrianna Marie Planey’s Twitter.
  • Proximity to vital resources from Safe Rest Villages. This particular article is locally specific, but I thought it’s a great example of what the discussion in the chat and the Q&A evolved around regarding what proximity means to different populations who get around in different ways. This is a critique of the locations proposed by the city for sanctioned encampments for people experiencing homelessness by our local street newspaper. This critique was based on the proximity of resources their community had identified as the most important, which included the proximity on foot and detailed consideration of the practicalities of using public transit to access them. “20 minutes by bus” doesn’t always mean you can be there in 20 minutes when you need to if that bus doesn’t run on weekends!
  • Particular maps/geospatial datasets I often reference:

Many of these resources are health focused because I’m an epidemiologist and US focused because I work in the United States on the land of many tribes who made their homes on the Southern bank of the Columbia River, including many tribes who now do business as The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, and The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. I’d love to hear more about the resources that other folks, both from similar and different places and fields, have found useful!

One thing that I would really like to see that I’m not really in a position to make happen is an interactive map similar to the CDC EJI or CalEnviroScreen that couples the statistical data presented there with narratives from residents of each area, whether that’s text or something like a PhotoVoice project. I think maps of things like demographics, poverty, and environmental exposures can be a powerful tool for bringing attention to injustices but can also lead to relying on deficit framing of underresourced neighborhoods.

(My apologies if there’s a better way to link this thread to the talk! It seemed like the Talking Data Equity thread was mostly to post recordings, and I wanted to start a longer conversation about equity and geographical data without clogging up that thread.)


Hey @shawkins this is awesome! This is a perfect place to start this thread.

I really appreciate all these links and we will amplify this thread to ensure that others find it.

I am always excited to hear about people’s data equity dreams. The idea of an interactive map that couples the quant data with narratives is a great idea. I will keep my eye out for opportunities to make this happen!

This is great, thank you! There is also a Minority Health Social Vulnerability Index that was developed by the CDC and the HHS Office of Minority Health. There is also a relatively new product from the U.S. Census Bureau called the Community Resilience Estimates for Equity (CRE for Equity). The CRE for Equity is unique because it uses individual-level data that cannot be released publicly in its calculations.

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