The Geography of Child Poverty in California

Map application on PPIC web page
Client:   Public Policy Institute of California

The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) is a highly regarded research organization seeking to provide the best information and analysis on problems facing California. For a project on poverty in families with young children, PPIC asked GreenInfo to develop a web mapping application that would allow users to explore the geographic details of the considerable research they had conducted. 

Here's how PPIC describes the focus for this study:

"Despite strong economic growth, California continues to struggle with high rates of child poverty. Adverse circumstances faced by young children can have long-term physical, social, and behavioral consequences—negatively affecting their future education and economic well-being. A nuanced understanding of how child poverty varies across the state would help address this challenge. In this report, we examine regional and local differences in the economic circumstances of poor families with young children age 0–5."

GreenInfo's challenge was to take the very rich data in the report and conceive of a web mapping application that would function inside the PPIC web site and provide users with an engaging but highly informative method of going deeper in any part of the state.

The resulting application allows users to browse the map, or to search for particular places. Six different demographic themes are available as "lenses" through which to view poverty on the map, and details on each of those are available. For each theme the map legend allows the user to choose from up to five variables, each with a narrative tailored by PPIC to contextualize the data. A full screen version of the map is also available to the user. 

One of the challenges with this application was that the geographic unit of the study is something called a Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs), which vary greatly in size and are unfamiliar to most anyone who is not professionally involved with demographics. We made sure the application includes an easy location search that ties user entry to the right PUMA, so you can enter a ZIP code, address or city or county name to get to your PUMA.

This is a front-end-only application built using HTML 5, CSS, and Javascript/jQuery and Leaflet. The application, which in embedded in PPIC's Wordpress site, draws its data from a linked set of spreadsheet files (in CSV format). 

Focus:   Human Services, Public Health, Social Justice/Equity  

Services:  Interactive Solutions, GIS Services, Cartography, Applications Development, Web Mapping 

“ On behalf of the PPIC team, thank you for your work and guidance on this project. It’s been a pleasure, and we’re very much looking forward to sharing the fruits of your labor with the world!”

—  Vicki Hsieh, Senior Editor

Project Years: 2016-17

GreenInfo Network creates, analyzes, visualizes and communicates information in the public interest. We specialize in mapping and related technology for nonprofits and public agencies, focusing on using it for conservation, social equity, public health, environment and foundation grant making.
2201 Broadway, Suite M5
United States of America