The US Department of Health and Human Services recently announced a new open data initiative, the Community Health Data Initiative, intended to provide tools and data sets for community-level health analysis. As the first part of this initiative, HHS and related government and non-government entities will be collecting and linking to existing data and resources, some of which we've already examined (such as the CountyHealthRankings.org mapplication). The USDA contributes its county-level food and nutrition atlas, useful for visualizing statistics about food deserts, food access, and food insecurity issues, as well as physical activity statistics.
The Red Cross and FEMA jointly operate the National Shelter System, a comprehensive database of over 54,000 emergency shelters across the United States. When shelters are activated during an emergency, this system is used to monitor locations, capacities, and other shelter information. In addition to Red Cross and FEMA staff and volunteers, many state and local organizations use this information as well.
Two prominent uses of maps as visual aids in news stories late this week - first up, the Washington Post's state-by-state map of "unauthorized immigrants as a percentage of state population." Based on 2008 data, the map also includes a chart showing the estimated increase of this percentage in Arizona over the past 20 years.
The Global Action Atlas, a new online portal from National Geographic, allows visitors to explore environmental, humanitarian, and cultural projects around the world with an interactive map interface. The site integrates social networking and provides a pathway for recruiting advocates, donors, and volunteers. Well beyond sticking pushpins on a map, this portal aims to "connect people and planet."
Recently, MapTogether started an online campaign to raise $359 for a speaker registration at the #10NTC Nonprofit Technology Conference in Atlanta. Like many grassroots or nonprofit projects trying to raise a small sum, we signed up for a ChipIn account and used web-based services to create a fundraising widget: a graphical widget that allows viewers to securely donate to our campaign AND displays a real-time view of donations toward the goal.
Maps are powerful and important! That's the caption of a slide in my standard "GIS for nonprofits" presentation, right around the part where I'm trying to teach why nonprofit organizations should care about maps. Maps aren't always used just to illustrate historical statistics or last year's data - they can also be used to visualize future plans and activities for our communities and our world... with both positive and negative implications. That's why I think the Illinois Fair Map Initiative's Fair Map Amendment is such an important issue.