The following report was commissioned by The Opportunity Agenda1 and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies2 to study the role of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and mapping in addressing issues of social equity, neighborhood poverty, and community health through university-led initiatives. The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity worked with Brian Smedley to outline the scope and limitations of the study and to present both the interim findings and the final report. The Kirwan Institute is a research, advocacy, and policy institute with the Law Department at The Ohio State University.
GIS is an expanding field with applications in a variety of disciplines. With new technology and awareness, cartography has advanced significantly since the days of hand-drawn maps. Internet technology acted as a catalyst toward outreach and brought mapping into the cultural vernacular. However, use of GIS in the field of advocacy and social justice is relatively new. It has been effectively used in the field, but faces many challenges and barriers. This research investigates the use and effectiveness of GIS mapping, identifies benefits and challenges, and projects its future course.