Regional Mapping in Many Dimensions
A press release earlier this week tells about an impressive and important pertnership between the University of Minnesota's Center for Urban and Rural Affairs, the Labor Market Information Office at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, and other government agencies and nonprofit organizations. They have developed a web-based mapping system called Minnesota 3-D (M3D), that provides "employment, housing, services and economic development information and analysis tools."
The web site for M3D is http://map.deed.state.mn.us/m3d/.
According to the press release,
The first-of-its-kind application in the nation, M3D brings together more than 90 data layers that may be displayed visually on a map and in report format using geographic information systems technology.
"The future vitality of our region depends on our ability to efficiently connect housing, jobs and services," said Kris Nelson, CURA project director. "M3D provides a significant tool for communities to inform policies and implement strategies for efficient and sustainable development to assure the well being of working families."
As reported in a recent study by the National Center for Housing Policy, working families in the Twin Cities metropolitan area spend 30 percent of their household income on transportation (and more than 27 percent on housing). The report recommends that "regions coordinate their housing and transportation policies to ensure they fully reflect the needs of working families--one example includes building more affordable housing near existing and planned transit hubs."
Over the next year CURA and other M3D community partners will be working to apply M3D to planning and development projects to achieve a greater balance between housing and employment opportunities within communities.
A project like this reminds us that in university-public partnerships, the public partners may be not just individuals or citizen groups, but also governmental or nonprofit organizations whose goals, just like the university's, are to serve society; and that the partners have much information and technical knowledge to contribute to the joint venture.