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  • Krey Assignment 1

Marymargaret (Megan) Krey

Tufts GIS 0232

Assignment #1


Project Topic Interests and Spatial Questions


1. Project Topic #1

I would like to create “Opportunity Maps” for elderly people in Boston . My idea is based on the Kirwan Institute’s Opportunity Mapping project, but instead of mapping educational, economic and housing opportunities, I would map services that help seniors get the care they need in their home.Thus I would map the location of senior centers, grocery stores, transportation (bus and T stops), medical centers, churches, libraries, WIC vendors, Adult Day health centers and schools. I would also like to provide a layer showing how many certified home health agencies and volunteer groups provide services to the areas. I would compare these maps with the maps of where elderly people currently live and where they are projected to live if people continue to age in place. This would be a sort of community inventory specifically for elderly people in Boston . I envision my project similar to the County of San Diego Health and Human Servies Agency “Service Locater -” which allows citizens to find health care, recreational and transportation facilities in the county. I chose to focus on Boston since I familiar with the city and many of the current services available to seniors. This data is important to locate and map since as the baby boomer generation ages, they will need increased support and communities will need to plan ahead to provide this assistance.



2. Questions:

  1. What areas of the city are lacking services for elderly populations and what can the city and social service agencies do to improve services in these areas?

-          This is a significant question because the spatial data can help city officials and service providers focus on providing support to the most disadvantaged areas. This could be particularly valuable data for companies that serve elderly populations as they would know what services to provide. Additionally, this would be important information regarding the city’s accessible transportation options (The Senior Shuttle and the MBTA’s RIDE) and if alternative types of transportation services could be provided (taxi vouchers). Lastly, this is important for HUD and the Boston Housing Authority since many of their residents are aging and are in need of additional support. These housing agencies could capitalize on local service and/or develop any of the services that are lacking. This mapping will also help identify the “Naturally Ocurring Retirement Communities” (NORCS) that are popping up all over the city.


  1. Why are some areas of the city underserved in terms of elderly services and can significant changes be made in these areas? Or would it be wiser for elderly people to move to better served areas?

-          This is significant because many elderly people live in areas where they feel isolated, like the Charlestown Navy Yard. By mapping services by area, elderly people would have better knowledge as to what areas could best meet their needs. This could help HUD and the BHA to better match people in public housing and to figure out where to place new public housing developments.

3. What can be done to increase the accessiblity to these services?

- This question is significant because many communities are realizing that accessible transportation is either nonexistent or too expensive to provide. For example, the MBTA examining alternatives to their RIDE program and so mapping where services are most needed, systems like local shuttles could be employed.


3. References

- “Opportunity Mapping: Mapping Geography of Opportunity for Public Interest Advocacy”. Presented by Jason Reece , NLADA Substantive Law Conference. Chicago , IL . July 23, 2010. The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity.

This presentation gave me the original idea for my project by proving that environmental factors significantly influence peoples quality of life.


- GIS for Housing and Urban Development (2003) Committee on Review of Geographic Information Systems Research and Applications at HUD: Current

Programs and Future Prospects, Committee on Geography, National Research Council

This report emphasized the struggles that public housing projects are facing regarding trying to meet the needs of their aging population. It also explained the importance of the surrounding community attributes to how well a resident is going to fit in and succeed in the public housing project.


- Livable Communuties: An Evaluation Guide. Arizona State University : Herberger Center for Design Excellence, 2005.

This article outlines what services and built environment features are necessary to make communities livable for seniors.


- Leslie, E. et al. 2007. Walkability of local communities: Using geographic information systems to objectively assess relevant environmental attributes . Health & Place , 13(1): 111-122

This article helped me understand how to measure a communities “walkability” which I would like to use in my project.



4. Data

I have access to data about elderly people in Boston (b-day, address) for my job and I am unsure if I can use it for this project and what form it would be in. Yet I do not know how comprehensive the data is especially since there are a lot of duplicate entries.


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Project Topic #2

I would like to use GIS to identify schools, nonprofits and needy individuals who could benefit from volunteer support along with areas where unemployed and/or retired people are concentrated to better match up people and places that need support with those people who may be able to provide this support. Accessible transportation (trains, bus stops, etc) would also be mapped to show how potential volunteers could get to these needy areas. My desire to do this mapping stems from my experience with elderly people who have so much knowledge to share and often experience loneliness and the fact that many schools, children, social service agencies and individuals are in need of extra assistance. Although the national Senior Corps website makes use of “volunteer match,” a program where one can search for volunteer opportunities based on one’s zip code, adding a mapping component with transportation data would enable to people to more accurately find opportunities that are accessible and convenient. This would hopefully encourage more people to volunteer which has positive benefits to both the community and the individual volunteer. Similar to what I stated above, I envision my project similar to the County of San Diego Health and Human Servies Agency “Service Locater -” but instead of mapping services, it would map volunteer opportunities and areas that have a large percentage of retired/elderly people. I would plan to focus on the City of Boston or the state of Rhode Island . Although I am very interested in this topic, I realize it might be difficult to map and that the information would need to be regularly updated because volunteer needs change frequently.


2. Questions:

1. Where are the highest concentrations of retired people located and are they near places that need volunteers?

- This information would help organizations in need of volunteers know where to recruit potential volunteers and/or locate their main offices if they are very dependent on the work of volunteers.


2.Where are most volunteer opportunities located and what is the best and most feasible way of getting volunteers to these locations?

- This information is essential in figuring out how to best match volunteers to agencies in need. It would also be helpful in looking into alternative transportation options to getting volunteers to this area if there is enough demand. Many seniors do not drive so transportation could be a major roadblock to volunteering.






3. References


- Reinventing Aging – Baby Boomers and Civic Engagement” report, Harvard School of Public Health & MetLife Foundation Initiative on Retirement and Civic Engagement 2004

This article explains why America needs to encourage volunteering among the Baby Boomer generation. It also gives facts and figures about the types of volunteer work attractive to boomers and some of the roadblocks to volunteering. Although spatial issues are not specifically addressed, the article does highlight how accessibility impacts volunteering.


-“Keeping Baby Boomers volunteering: A research brief on Volunteer Retention and Turnover” Coporation for National and Community Service. 2007.

This article reinforces the need for easily accessible volunteer opportunities in order to retain volunteers.



4. Data

  - Data available for Boston from the VolunteeringInAmerica website