The NJTPA hosted its 8th Annual Tech Tools for Planning Expo on May 19, showcasing three tools: the NJTPA's Equity Analysis Tool, New Jersey's Potential Lead Exposure Map tool; and the City of Tacoma, Washington's Equity Index.
“Equity really is just an incredibly important consideration in our region, we have a very diverse population of 7 million, with, of course, very diverse needs when it comes to planning and transportation,” said David Behrend, NJTPA Deputy Executive Director, noting that equity is a focus of the NJTPA’s recently adopted Long Range Transportation Plan, Plan 2050: Transportation. People. Opportunity.
Gabrielle Fausel, a Principal Planner in GIS and Planning Tools, presented the NJTPA’s new Equity Resources website, built on the Esri Hub platform, and Equity Analysis Tool, which is modeled after a similar tool the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission developed. The tool allows users to quickly identify where different populations live in a project area, municipality, or county.
She said the NJTPA developed the tool in response to requests for data and guidance on how to analyze equity considerations when launching a new study. The tool includes data on the location of minorities, low-income individuals, limited English proficiency, people with disabilities and other factors. The website brings together various resources, like guidance documents the NJTPA has developed and information on federal requirements.
“It’s our hope that our resources, like the new Equity Analysis Tool, will help our own staff and our partners better understand these populations so that the potential benefits and impacts of projects and programs can be considered in our planning work,” Behrend said.
Christine Schell, Program Manager of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Environmental Public Health and Safety, presented on the Potential Lead Exposure Map, which created in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Health. The tool is being released in phases. The first phase, released in October, focuses on lead-based paint in homes, which poses the greatest risk of lead exposure to children and families.
“It is envisioned that the tool will grow as a one-stop mapping tool that uses publicly available data to give a sense of where potential lead sources are that are affecting human health in New Jersey,” Schell said.
Additional data being considered for future phases include school and daycare center drinking water sampling results; soil lead levels; information on abandoned sites; and lead service line locations.
Jacques Colon, Strategic Manager for the City of Tacoma, presented on the city’s Equity Index. The tool helps determine where community members are unable to access services, or where services do not meet the community’s needs. It compiles 29 different indicators — such as life expectancy, road quality, air quality, unemployment, poverty rates and access to healthy food — into one tool that generates scores for each Census block ranking them from very low to very high levels of inequity.
Colon said the beauty of the tool is its ability to analyze various data sources and present patterns.
“It doesn’t tell the full story to look at any single piece of data; really it requires us looking at the full comprehensive conglomeration of indicators,” he said.
Colon said the city uses the index to identify and track disparities; support data-driven decision-making; and to provide transparency and accountability of that process.
Additional information about the tools and speaker bios are available on the event page. A recording of the event is available below.