Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Online Mapping Tool Opens Doors to Data

The Reinvestment Fund (TRF), a not-for-profit national leader in the financing of neighborhood revitalization, today launched PolicyMap (, an online mapping tool that empowers decision makers with better access to quality market and demographic data. Where data was once the domain of researchers and analysts, PolicyMap offers simple and quick access to a wealth of data for anyone who needs it. From city planners and grant makers to real estate developers and strategic consultants, professionals can now use PolicyMap to map and analyze information based on geography.

"In the Internet age, the data that is available can be overwhelming. It is often dispersed across a multitude of sites and can be difficult and time consuming to decipher," said Jeremy Nowak, President of TRF. "With PolicyMap, we have an interactive mapping tool that brings thousands of indicators to your fingertips. It used to take days and an expertise in GIS mapping software to create even basic demographic maps. With PolicyMap, you can do this in minutes."

PolicyMap offers more than 4,000 indicators related to demographics, real estate markets, crime, schools, housing affordability, employment, energy, and public investments. PolicyMap aggregates indicators from a variety of sources including U.S. Census, Claritas, FBI, IRS, Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, and Boxwood Means (a value-added reseller of home sale data). PolicyMap compiles and scrubs the data to ensure that it is reliable and accurate. Every data variable comes with simple, easy-to-understand descriptions and precise technical definitions.

PolicyMap users can access the data through maps, reports, charts, and tables -- all of which can be saved and printed. PolicyMap users can:

# Create reports based on a specified radius of a location or a custom-drawn region.

# Upload and map their own data and share as appropriate.

# Save custom regions, reports, maps and tables, and email them or print them as JPG or PDF files for use in reports and presentations.

# Access online tutorials and live online training sessions.

"The goal of PolicyMap is to make it easy to gather and analyze credible data that policy makers, foundations and investors need to make decisions," said Maggie McCullough, Director of PolicyMap. "PolicyMap's online mapping tool is available to anyone with Internet access and is viewable on any standard browser without requiring any additional software or plug-ins."

PolicyMap's basic service is available to the general public for free. Users can also select from various subscriber levels to access proprietary data and projections, upload their own data, and use additional features. Subscriptions start at $200 per month for a single standard subscriber or $5,000 per year for a single premium subscriber.

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