Monday, April 4, 2016

Geographic Information System; Applying Concepts

I try to take a GIS (Geographic Information System) class every semester. I really liked the concept of this one in that we’re pairing with a community organization and doing applicable work for them.

This year we’re paired with Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ), an organization that’s trying to close the achievement gap in North Minneapolis by supporting low-income children of color.

NAZ’s motto is “cradle to career.” They are trying to get all students within their zone to be college ready by improving both the schools and the community of North Minneapolis. They use a wraparound approach. In order to improve students’ performances in schools, they have to also improve the home environment, so they’re trying to work on housing conditions, health, employment, and transportation. They are partnered with 140 or so other organizations within the Twin Cities that they can direct families to—like parenting classes and health organizations.

My group is looking at the housing environment of North Minneapolis. In particular, we are looking at variables such as foreclosures, mortgage rates, and if the houses are renter or owner occupied. We are seeing if the variables have changed over the years and how they affect the overall neighborhood dynamic.

At the end of the semester, we’ll have a final report for NAZ. We’ll share all of our maps and data, which they can use however they want. It’s really cool that we’re doing something useful and that this organization is so appreciative of the work we’re doing for them.

GIS is always tricky—finding the data, cleaning the data, and making it usable. That’s always the challenging part. For my career, I want to do something with GIS, so this is a really good starting point. I’ve enjoyed the class so far and want to continue doing this type of work. If you’re interested in GIS, I highly recommend this class.         

Hannah Bonestroo ’17
Ames, Iowa
Geography major with Urban Studies concentration