Equity, Opportunity and the Regional Planning Process: Data and Mapping in Five U.S. Metropolitan Areas
Metropolitan areas across the country increasingly have utilized a wealth of demographic and spatial data to create equity and opportunity atlases or maps. These maps can serve as reference points for community groups and activists to show how inequality is spatially distributed across cities and regions. They also hold the possibility of helping to push regional planning and policy toward a more equitable distribution of housing, transportation, and environmental costs and benefits.
This new paper investigates how equity and opportunity maps have been integrated into planning processes in five regions across the country: Portland (Oregon), Seattle, Denver, Atlanta, and Minneapolis–St. Paul. Through interviews with key stakeholders, the authors explore how regional equity and opportunity maps have been useful in catalyzing engagement on equity issues, making the case for local and regional policy changes, and adopting meaningful equity-oriented planning and policy changes. Lessons learned include advice for management of opportunity and equity map data collection and development at the metropolitan level, and suggestions for how community-based groups, activists, planners, and policy makers can better use equity and opportunity mapping to push for regional change.