A Cutting-Edge Tool Designed for Cities and Community Organizers to Create Equity Maps Tailored to Data and Policy Needs
GEM can help you understand the conditions of your neighborhood by giving you the data you need in order to effectively collaborate with partners and stakeholders.
Purposes and Uses
Over 100 cities across the United States have expressed the need for data-driven equity insights to inform climate and sustainability strategies. Along with good data to complement climate change solutions and social equity, America’s climate movement desperately needs stronger collaborations between city staff and communities impacted by inequities.
GEM is meant to be used collaboratively by cities and frontline communities to advance social equity strategies that will also accelerate climate action. Enabled by support from The Kresge Foundation, Greenlink Analytics and Upright Consulting Services partnered together to develop the GEM Platform and Process Guide.
Our maps provide statistical and geographical data on current inequities in order for you to gain a sense of inequity patterns experienced. In order to gain authentic and equitable solutions, collaborative data analysis needs to be rooted in mutual understanding and respect for the multiple perspectives and experiences of community members.
When these GEM maps are coupled with stories of communities’ experiences, the resulting shared data analysis can serve as a foundation for unlocking strategies to close racial equity gaps. It can also help create solutions for climate preparedness, public health, and other crises. We hope that by using the GEM Platform and the Process Guide together you will be inspired to more effectively:
Work together to understand the conditions of their communities and neighborhoods
Improve democratic processes and community engagement
Determine resources needed for equitable and efficient programs and policies
Foster sustainable democratic processes
Identify achievable and effective equity and climate solutions
Promote community participation and engagement
What does "Social Equity" mean?
People of color and low-income populations across America are suffering inequities related to health, housing, climate risk, economic prosperity, education, mobility, and other important aspects of a life well-lived resulting in unequal opportunities for advancement.
Mayors and city officials are responding to the needs of their most vulnerable communities
and are stepping up commitments to racial and social equity. Cities are looking for ways to
integrate equity considerations into a broad range of policies and activities.
As local governments plan and implement bold climate action plans that are responsive to equity concerns, an opportunity exists to address existing disparities and to create stronger, more equitable communities for everyone.
According to Kapwa Consulting, equity is defined as the correction of broken systems so that one's identity is not an indicator of outcomes. In their Climate Equity Primer, they list three different forms of equity that can be advanced through design and decision-making:
• Procedural equity: Ensuring that processes are fair and inclusive in the development
and implementation of any program or policy.
• Distributional equity: Ensuring that resources or benefits and burdens of a policy or
program are distributed fairly, prioritizing those with highest need first.
• Structural (Intergenerational) equity: A commitment and action to correct past harms
and prevent future negative consequences by institutionalizing accountability and
decision-making structures that aim to sustain positive outcomes.
A fourth element, Cultural Equity, intersects all three and refers to the shift in norms required to fully address racism and anti-blackness in climate equity work.
Throughout the implementation of the Climate Challenge, we will support cities to foster climate solutions that address the disproportionate burdens faced by community members vulnerable to climate change.
We have created GEM and the Process Guide as a tool to support the process of repairing our systems and improving outcomes for all residents across the US to thrive. By working together using science and data, we have the ability to create fair and just policies, to have a say in how resources are allocated, and to build stronger community and local government relationships for the advancement of genuine equitable solutions.
How was the Platform developed?
Greenlink Analytics created this innovative platform with the support of software company Tyrannosaurus Tech in order to provide users with access to user-friendly data and mapping visualizations of equity at a neighborhood level.
Data from a multitude of public and private sources such as the 5-year American Community Survey (ACS) and the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) are synthesized for 15 equity indicators at a neighborhood census-tract level for 50 cities across the US. To view each indicator, visit our How to Use page.
The methodology used to create this database has been reviewed by an exceptional panel of academics from The Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Michigan, and University of California Los Angeles.
GEM Process Guide: For Cities and Communities Developing Shared Analysis of Equity Maps
Collaboration between local government and communities impacted by inequities are key to transformative climate and equity outcomes. Cities that invest in community partnerships and participatory planning have a greater capacity for practical climate solutions than cities where partnerships do not exist. To prepare for and address the impacts of the climate crisis, city staff and leaders from frontline communities must build strong working relationships.
Upright Consulting Services convened a national team of practitioners to develop the GEM Process Guide which should be used together with the equity maps. The national team of practitioners came from an extensive background in city government, community organizing, participatory action research, energy efficiency policy, and facilitation.
Rosa Gonzalez (Facilitating Power) led the creation of the Process Guide for cities to work with communities by developing a shared analysis of equity maps. Download the guide to learn more about how it supports city staff in collaborating with community organizers to implement inclusive processes and programs based on the equity data produced by GEM.
Copyright & Credits of Cover Photos: The Solutions Project and their grantees, Partnership for Southern Equity, PUSH Buffalo, SCOPE, and UFW Foundation. Photographers include: Stephen Yang, Camille Seaman, Sheila Pree-Bright, Erick Voss, and Dijon Bowden. This work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.