Map shows hyperlocal census info

November 18, 2011
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A remarkable new online map lets people see hyperlocal U.S. Census information about Boston down to individual streets.

The “myNeighborhood Census Viewer” will soon include a vast amount of other info, ranging from police districts to the location of libraries, according to the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), which created the map.

The map requires virtually no technical know-how. Users simply drag the mouse on an area—anything from a street to a block to the entire city—and the site instantly provides detailed Census data for it. The data is clearly presented as a pie chart.

For example, it shows that the Gazette office’s Harris Avenue block has 120 residents—86.7 percent white, 55.8 percent female.

Alvaro Lima, the BRA’s director of research, said the BRA invented the map because it was getting multiple calls a week for hyperlocal Census data for grant proposals and other purposes. Those seeking it included the JP organizations Urban Edge, the Hyde Square Task Force and the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, he said.

Lima used to work at Urban Edge, and said that gathering demographic data for community meetings used to take months.

“With this [map], you can bring a laptop to a meeting” and get the info instantly, he said.

By the end of the year, the Census Viewer will include other data currently available on the City of Boston’s little-known, and less sophisticated, “My Neighborhood” map at cityofboston.gov/myneighborhood.

The Census Viewer was created by the BRA and the City. It is available at hubmaps.cityofboston.gov/myneighborhood.