Define the Purpose and Goals of Your Equity Atlas

An equity atlas is not a one-size-fits-all project. Your equity atlas should be tailored to meet your community’s particular context and needs and should be guided by your answers to the following questions: 


How Your Answer Will Affect Your Planning

What issues will the equity atlas address?

What are the critical issues facing your community or region, and how will the equity atlas address these issues? Is the equity atlas intended to inform a specific issue or policy decision or to inform a broad range of policy and planning decisions? 

Your answers to these questions will shape the framing of your maps, the partners you engage, and the analysis you provide to users. For example, if the equity atlas is intended to shape decisions for a specific issue, such as a regional transportation plan, you will want to choose partners and provide maps and analysis that are strategically focused around that issue. If the equity atlas will be a broader planning tool, you will want to engage a wide range of stakeholders in the planning process, and your indicators must be as comprehensive as possible. 

How will the equity atlas impact policy and planning decisions?

Do you want the equity atlas data and maps to support a particular advocacy agenda, or is your goal to create an analytical tool that can be used and interpreted by a range of stakeholders to support their work?

If you are developing an equity atlas to support a particular advocacy agenda, you will need to focus on the maps that make the most compelling case for your position. A series of static maps that allows you to frame the interpretation may be more effective than an interactive mapping tool. If you are developing an equity atlas to inform a broad range of decisions and if funding allows, an interactive mapping tool with a wide range of indicators will enable users to create their own maps and analysis.

What role will the equity atlas play over time?

Do you want to create a visual snapshot of current conditions or do you want to build an analytical tool that can be used to shape policy and planning on an ongoing basis?

If you are creating a one-time visual snapshot, you can develop maps based on the indicators for which data are currently available. If you are creating an ongoing tool, you will need to focus on indicators that are available consistently on an ongoing basis, and your planning will need to include strategies for maintaining and updating the data over time.