November 28, 2023
November 20, 2023
The Port of Seattle was the first port authority in the country to establish an Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, with the goal of embedding these values into the fabric of the organization. The Port will realize this goal by working to become a truly equitable and anti-racist organization.
One important tool to help progress towards this vision is the Port’s Equity Index. It’s an interactive and data-driven map that displays a visual representation of social and environmental disparities in King County. Using 21 indicators within four categories, the Equity Index illustrates the degree to which different communities experience pollution burdens and social inequities. Across the region, there are significant variations in pollution exposure, access to economic opportunities, and the overall standard of living.
The index was created by the Port of Seattle’s Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion as a tool for the Port to understand those variations that exist within the region and use that information to direct resources towards the areas of greatest need. Port staff uses the Equity Index to equitably guide funding decisions and broadly inform policy decisions across the Port. It’s a mapping tool that will identify opportunities to help communities and leverage limited resources; the data will be used to help advance equity in our region.
The equity index will help the Port:
According to the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement in the image below, almost 50% of the factors influencing your wellbeing can be traced back to your zip code, which is why a tool like the Equity Index is so important. The Equity Index allows the user to access data and see patterns on a near granular level, viewing data by census blocks at the smallest level. This will allow both the Port, other governments, and community-based organizations to create programs and interventions based upon data to address the specific needs of different communities. And, it will help policymakers and community groups determine how to focus these efforts. For instance, do we need to improve the physical environment, are there issues accessing healthcare, or does a community need access to family wage careers?
We all use indexes in our everyday lives to get through the world happy and healthy. Indexes combine multiple data sources and attribute an easily understood score to the aggregated data. For example,
One of the first steps to building this tool was collecting accurate and timely data. Every piece of data in the system is supported by at least four peer-reviewed papers that associate that datapoint with equity.
Data is collected from regional partners and jurisdictions, rather than relying wholly on census data. The Port is expanding partnerships with partners in the region. To partner, contact the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.
The Port of Seattle has created a GIS shape file and a user-friendly website where analysts at government institutions or members of the community can access the data.
Data is aggregated by Census block, with a racial demographic overlay so users can examine the correlation between race and resources in each community.
It contains four categories aligned with the Port’s Century Agenda, which is the organization’s strategic North Star. The tool is aligned with the Port’s mission and relevant to our region.
The equity index has four categories and 21 indicators that are all social determinants of health and wellness. Here are examples of just a few indicators.
The data is distributed into Quantiles (five parts) to show the opportunities relative to other communities in the region. This distribution is useful in answering the questions:
Does this community have access to the opportunity to succeed or excel in life? How does it compare to other communities in the region?
What’s the data distribution in this community and how many data points are you from that mean?
The Port’s Equity Index tool provides analysis that communities and staff in public service can use in work to plan their day to day initiatives. There are two ways to access this data for different stakeholder audiences
The interactive map includes six demographic different layers that can be turned on (or off) to evaluate the degree for each community of:
It also offers index values for economy, livability, accessibility, and environment values, plus an overview that can be applied to each geographic area.
How can this data and mapping tool be used to aid decision making and foster equity?
This map shows the distribution of opportunities in communities with an overlay of resident demographics.
This map demonstrates that the areas with the highest opportunities (darker blues) also have lower concentrations of people of color.
Other practical applications of this tool include:
Policy decision making
For example, placing noise monitors in communities with less access to opportunity to measure the amount of noise as compared to communities with more opportunities
This tool could show utilities or governments where to place information in the communities that need it most when they have limited budgets. These datapoints could be used to find the communities with the most traffic, the highest accident rate, and needing safe schools
One potential application during COVID-19 could be to discover the most vulnerable communities that were most impacted by the pandemic and place vaccination sites there.
How can governments identify communities with the lowest input and participation and get them involved?
1. Create case studies
demonstrating the application of the tool to answer specific questions
2. Collect more data
including an overlay with people who speak English as a second language
The map will be updated yearly, and the Port will work with communities to define attributes and aggregate data. The Port will redistribute and reaggregate data for particular cities. The Port can provide King County data and make it relative to just the data for your city or town.
Building more partnerships with University of Washington, City of Seattle, and King County). The Port is working with other local jurisdictions to discovery what they are doing with equity and data. And the Port is making investments in communities by creating storymaps, video, and photos.
3. Create story maps
Story maps are an interactive, web-based Arc GIS map integrated with photos, captions, video, time specific data, popups, and other interactive features that help users explore a particular topic.
4. Define other applications for the tool
In the future, we’ll bring you more case studies detailing applications of the Equity Index in the Port’s work and in other jurisdictions in the region.
November 28, 2023
November 20, 2023
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