Indiana Chapter - American Planning Association

You Used Color Markers?

Posted on February 2nd, by Katie Bannon in Economic Development, Environmental Planning, Technology, Transportation. No Comments

By Bob Grewe, AICP, APA-Indiana Southern Region Representative

Over the past couple of years I have found myself becoming increasingly joyous when coming across a new online mapping or data resource.   The pace of development for new products, services and applications has been and continues to be astounding. I believe my fascination with these new tools stems from being old enough to recall maps that were painstakingly produced and edited with color markers. Years ago finding data and demographics meant paging through volumes of text and likely a visit to the local or regional library. Following are some resources I’ve come across lately that have made our lives better through technology. Thought I’d share.

A colleague in our environmental section recently turned me on to Stream Stats. Using the interactive map, I can select a location along a stream and the application identifies the entire watershed leading to this point. This would have taken considerable effort and possibly field work to capture this type of information in the years of my youth.

Want to know if there might be historic resources in a project area? You can now consult the Indiana State Historic Architectural and Archaeological Research Database (SHAARD) of the Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology (DHPA). The interactive map allows you to search for historic resources by area or attributes.

Need to know if a project area might contain wetlands? A great place to start your analysis is the National Wetland Inventory. The interactive map allows you to zoom into any area across the US to determine if wetland features exist in your area of concern.

Curious if that old factory may have environmental remediation issues? You can point your browser to EPA Cleanups In My Community. The application allows you to look at communities across the US and identify environmental contamination issues ranging from brownfield concerns to Superfund projects.

New to an area or trying to get a “feel” for an area with which you are not familiar with? You might consider checking out ESRIs ziptapestry website. I have used it to see how the application characterizes places where I have lived over the last 30 years. The profiles of population with these zip code areas was pretty much on target. Sometimes a little too close to home. Ha!

Say you need specific economic data for unique geographic areas. For my money, the US Census Bureau’s On The Map service provides a robust complement of economic data resources.   It is particularly useful for understanding commuting patterns and the industries and occupations associated with both the commuters and resident workers.

Referencing the value of these online resources reinforces the need for broadband connectivity to effectively utilize these resources.   If you’d like to better understand broadband speeds for your community and surrounding areas, you can visit the Indiana Broadband Map. This resource gives you an appreciation of the level of broadband service across Indiana. The entire state seems pretty well served at speeds up to 10 mbps download. However, as you increase the download speed above 10 mbsp you begin to see large gaps in broadband service that occur predominately in rural areas.

I’m planning to post these on our APA-IN website. Perhaps we can identify, inventory and share other online tools and resources that our members could utilize? Send me your favorite online resources at and we’ll add them to the list.

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