Also by Reinvestment Fund

Bring Data to Life as Fun, Useful and Interesting Maps with the New PolicyMap

PolicyMap announces major new update to its interface and capabilities.

Philadelphia, March 13, 2014 —PolicyMap, a division of The Reinvestment Fund (TRF) dedicated to making public and commercial data available, as well as the tools to map this data, released a significant update to its self-service Web tool and site today at PolicyMap was created to put powerful data mapping tools into the hands of policy makers, economists, universities, researchers, citizens and others without requiring them to purchase complex mapping systems or invest in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) training to use those systems.

“For the last 6 years, we have largely catered to state, local and federal government users as well as banking and housing professionals, college students and researchers looking to better understand geographic data and trends,” said Maggie McCullough, President, PolicyMap. “As interest in data and data visualization has exploded, we’ve rebuilt PolicyMap into a more powerful but easier to use tool that appeals to our traditional customers, as well as newcomers to mapping and Web managers looking to elevate their business intelligence, research, analytics or presentation or GIS capabilities.”

With its online mapping tool and more than 15,000 datasets already available – including demographics, housing, lending, consumer spending, crime stats, education, jobs, healthcare and much more – PolicyMap is simple enough to let a family moving across the country see where top performing schools are located, but advanced enough to provide a nonprofit with data regarding physical inactivity in order to advocate where to build new playgrounds.

“PolicyMap has quickly and completely transformed how we analyze our markets and plan our investments,” said Alan Quick, Director of Strategic Planning and Research, Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA). “Prior to PolicyMap, we spent a lot of time searching for data to really dig into a neighborhood and understand it. We knew the data was out there somewhere, but just finding it was extremely time consuming. Now, it is all at our fingertips in a single, online application. We can find answers quickly, saving us a tremendous amount of time. And, we are using new indicators – data we didn’t even know to look for but found easily on PolicyMap. PolicyMap makes us more knowledgeable and efficient, and actually makes our work fun.”

New Features in PolicyMap
With this new update, PolicyMap has not only become easier to use and navigate, but has added more advanced capabilities such as custom data tools and advanced multi-layered mapping.

Among the updates in the new PolicyMap are:

  • Greatly improved performance for faster mapping and great responsiveness especially for very complex maps built with large amounts of data
  • Reorganized data menu making it quicker for users to find the data they need
    • The data menus are now organized by the topics most commonly searched for by users
    • The UI has been optimized to allow people to drill down deeply in an intuitive manner
  • Redesigned interface which takes inspiration from modern online shopping experiences and brings it to online data mapping to lower the learning curve
    • A familiar map experience makes getting started faster and easier
    • Modern standard search, print, share and download buttons that are similar to other consumer sites
    • More map colors to choose from, to aesthetically or strategically match the look and feel of other materials
    • Full screen map (vs. ⅔ page) is more contemporary and user requested.
    • Legends are draggable, allowing users to see other parts of the maps
  • New data loader allows users to easily upload and share their own data
    • Data loader allows all to upload address level data, choose icon, see all points on map
    • Thematic level data can be sent to PolicyMap for uploading as part of subscription
    • Uploaded data can be shared with specific users (both PolicyMap users and non-users)
  • Improved 3 Layer Maps (formerly known as analytics)
    • Highly-demanded, powerful functionality of layering multiple data sets on top of each other is now more prominent and easier to use
  • Additional data, as requested by users, including:
    • Commercial and residential vacancy via Vallassis, a provider of postal service vacancy data
    • Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics showing where people live vs where they work
    • Health related datasets from the CDC including monthly and seasonal flu activity, infectious disease rates and mortality rates by disease and injury
    • Emergency room visit rates, hospital beds, Medicare beneficiaries, health center services and location of concentrations of doctors and dentists
    • Bank branches, credit unions and bank failures
    • Community Health Centers, and Nurse practitioner led clinics
    • Public school finance data including expenditures and local, state and federal revenue
    • Indexes regarding Economic Mobility and Location Affordability
    • Wages by industry from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages
    • Consumer Expenditures (coming April 2014)
    • New indicators from the American Community Survey including health insurance coverage (coming April 2014)

Pricing & Availability
The basic level of PolicyMap is free as part of TRF’s mission to serve low-wealth people and places. This includes basic mapping tools along with access to any publicly available data such as the U.S. Census, FBI, IRS, HHS and HDMA.. More advanced mapping tools and access to any data that PolicyMap has to pay for such as home sales and school performance requires a monthly or yearly subscription ($200 or $2,000 respectively) or site license. Organizations that want instant data updates and unlimited access can integrate the PolicyMap Data API into their existing Web, Map or software platforms or embed the PolicyMap widget onto their website for use by their customers or visitors. This is a popular choice amongst real estate organizations, for example, that want to enable prospective home buyers to find desirable communities or lending partners.

Additional Resources

About PolicyMap
PolicyMap was established in 2007 as the data mapping and analysis division of The Reinvestment Fund (TRF), a national leader in the financing of neighborhood revitalization programs, founded in 1985. TRF has invested $1.3 billion in community development programs including affordable housing, schools, businesses, supermarkets and other projects that build wealth and opportunity for the people and places that need it the most. TRF partnered with 3D-L to create the technology that powers PolicyMap, leveraging an expertise in displaying geographic data as highly sophisticated and draggable maps in standard Web browsers.  Learn more at or on Twitter @PolicyMap.