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A Sample of GIS Projects for Development Initiatives and Research. by. Olmedo J. Varela, Ph.D. May 2000. SAMPLE OF PROJECTS. The Environmental Health and Education Project The Food System Assessment Study The Milwaukee Youth Mapping Project The Milwaukee Green Map Project.

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a sample of gis projects for development initiatives and research

A Sample of GIS Projects for Development Initiatives and Research


Olmedo J. Varela, Ph.D.

May 2000



  • The Environmental Health and Education Project
  • The Food System Assessment Study
  • The Milwaukee Youth Mapping Project
  • The Milwaukee Green Map Project

EHEP’s Main Goal

  • Minimize the health risk of neighborhood residents, particularly children from exposure to environmental hazards.

A geo-relational database containing information on environmental pollution levels and contamination sites.

The database allows researchers to graphically depict and analyze pollution and environmental hazard sources within the target area





A set of maps display 1970-1990 distribution of persons below poverty within the target area of the Environmental Health and Education Project.


The environmental data was analyzed and geographically displayed with demographic data at the neighborhood level through merger of the Environmental Pollution/Hazard database with data provided by the US Bureau of the Census.


Population Density, 1990

Lead Poisoning

An important feature of this collaborative effort to create this data base is the intent of allowing individuals and organizations in Milwaukee’s near south-side to access these data through user-friendly mapping provided through GIS.


Concentration Patterns

Tract 157

76% Non White

46.2 Below Poverty

High Population Density

High Number of Young Children

Tract 158

54.8% Non White

41.7% Below Poverty

High Population Density

Tract 164

70.2% Non White

42.2 % Below Poverty

High Population Density

High Number of Young Children

  • Young Children
  • Population density
  • Poverty
  • Minority Populations

Tract 156

82.9% Non White

51% Below Poverty

Tract 165

72.8 Non White

43.8 Below Poverty


The Food System Assessment Study

  • A Project that brings people from the community and the university together in partnerships to build a more food-secure future in Milwaukee
  • Focus of project:
  • Food pricing and availability
  • Shopping patterns
  • Use of emergency food system
  • Level of food access

A geo-relational database containing information on food programs in Milwaukee County was created to examine and assess a variety of spatial relationships within Milwaukee’s food system, particularly the relationship between

  • the location of food programs
  • geographic patterns of food stamp redemption
  • the spatial distribution of poverty.

Spatial distribution of meal programs in Milwaukee County

Meal programs provide a hot meal for any individuals in need of food.


Spatial distribution of large supermarkets (food stamp redeemers) and of households without access to private transportation


A mismatch was found between the location of the highest food stamps redeemers, which are mostly supermarkets, and the spatial distribution of poverty.



The spatial database will allow organizations related to Milwaukee’s food delivery systems and food delivery system professionals better



and respond

to changing spatial patterns of food access and poverty in Milwaukee.


The Milwaukee Youth Mapping Project

Youth Mapping involves young people canvassing neighborhoods, gathering information about what is available for children and youth. Youth become ethnographers asking and answering questions from a youth-oriented perspective and providing insight into the communities in which they live. Youth present their findings, maps, and recommendations to their Neighborhood Strategic Planning Councils in order to develop more youth friendly programs.


Youth services were grouped in five categories and

mapped using GIS’s geocoding capabilities

I-Youth and Community Development

Community Organizing

Involving Youth in Community Services

Leadership development

Politics and Advocacy

II-Youth Educational and Cultural Development


A save place to study or play

Arts and Culture


III-Youth Personal and Spiritual Development



Religious Activities

IV-Youth Health and Leisure


Environmental Projects

Recreation and Fitness

Field Trips

V-Basic Services for the Youth



Day Care


Anticipated Outcomes

      • An extensive involvement of 25-50 youth in identifying assets and resources in their communities and recommending opportunities for action to make the neighborhoods youth-friendly. A demonstration of the effectiveness of young people in working for change in their communities.
      • Practical information compatible with the City of Milwaukee’s Neighborhood Strategic Planning process and gives neighborhood residents and service providers data and maps that will become an integral part of developing youth oriented programs
      • A comprehensive inventory of youth resources to engage the city and neighborhoods in a discussion of the service gaps and opportunities to be addressed

The Milwaukee's Green Map:

  • Locates and makes visible ecologically and environmentally significant sites throughout Milwaukee County
  • Provides a single vision of resources by showing the connections between natural, built and cultural features which, when combined, establish Milwaukee's progress towards a more sustainable place.
  • Shows eco-resources within our region.

How is a "green map" made?

  • Milwaukee's Green Map uses a standardized set of more than 100 icons common to the Green Map System in use worldwide.
  • Each icon represents one piece of a community.
  • Categories include natural sites, renewable resources, and green economic development.
  • Specific icons identify community gardens, recycling locations, greenways, landfills, and organic produce suppliers, to name a few.

GIS was used to produce base maps for Milwaukee’s Green Map

GIS geo-coding capabilities were used to display the location of various sustainable development and toxic related sites in Milwaukee County


Street Lines


Water Lines



The GIS Parks Base Map

Sections of Final Map







In the Green Map specific icons identify several green sites:

  • Green Economics
  • green businesses and services
  • eco products
  • Renewable Resources
  • reuse sites
  • recycling
  • composting
  • renewable technology site
  • Infrastructure



Built Environment

  • cultural and historic sites
  • museums
  • eco-design resources
  • Toxic Sites
  • hazardous waste
  • noise pollution
  • officially listed contaminated sites
  • air and water pollution sources
  • superfund sites
  • Other Information
  • Resources




  • Information Sites
  • environmental and nature centers
  • environmental schools
  • information site sources
  • protest sites
  • significant organizations


  • Transportation
  • boat launches
  • major public transportation
  • park 'n' ride facilities
  • bike trails
  • secure bike parking
  • bike shops
  • walks
  • Food Resources
  • community gardens
  • farmers markets
  • eco agricultural sites
  • organic produce
  • vegetarian and natural foods

Natural Resources

  • water features
  • parklands
  • bioregional sites
  • bioremediation / restoration sites
  • flyways
  • birdwatching sites
  • dog runs
  • duck ponds
  • fishing sites
  • natural landscaping
  • Wild Ones Natural Landscapers
  • public gardens
  • public land
  • significant habitat
  • star-gazing site
  • wildlife rehabilitation centers
  • zoo