HUD project joins GIS, policy

A new international initiative seeks to demonstrate that data from geographic

information systems technology can help planners make more informed urban

development and housing decisions.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development and an academic organization

launched the initiative, called Global Urban Indicators, last week.

Researchers will develop GIS training materials and create data sets based

on key urban information available on the Internet — such as poverty rates,

new home constructions and clean water access. They hope to demonstrate

that by using GIS technology to collect and analyze such information, planners

can make more informed policies.

"I applaud HUD's efforts to encourage the use of GIS technology on a broad

scale," said Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) in a HUD statement. "We know that

this mapping technology can be an incredibly effective tool for local policy-makers.

This project will bring a greater understanding of how these technologies

can be used effectively, both in the U.S. and around the globe."

A Kanjorski staff member was included in an international GIS roundtable

discussion, along with urban planning experts from HUD, local governments,

academia, international organizations and industry. The University Consortium

for Geographic Information Science, which also had representatives in the

roundtable discussion, is using a $240,000 HUD grant to help establish the

Global Urban Indicators project.

Much of the project will model HUD's State of the Cities database, which

is used to cull information for the agency's annual report on conditions

in urban America.

"This international effort and all the resulting collaboration with project

members will provide HUD with critical information about developing nations,"

said Saul Ramirez, deputy secretary HUD. "And as a result, we'll have a

much broader perspective when analyzing issues and developing policies for

U.S. communities."

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