Community Development



ArticleReview and Summary

Thefollowing article is titled “Asset mapping and communitydevelopment planning with GIS.” The author goes by the name MarcSchlossberg from the University of Michigan. In this work, he delvesinto the application of the Heart of West Michigan United Way (HWMUW)approach as a means of obtaining relevant information. There hasalways been an outcry concerning the institutional strategies thatfocus too much on community deficiencies rather than the strengths.This led to the introduction of asset mapping. However, the articledoes not dwell much upon the contention of which is better betweenasset and need-oriented development strategies. On the contrary, itillustrates precisely how the Geographical Information System (GIS)is put into practice by the Heart of West Michigan United way in theGrand Rapids, Michigan. This is done by combining asset-based withthe older needs-based methodologies. The United Way is shown to be ina transition state concerning priority setting and resourceallocation, with necessary steps ongoing to achieve the build-up of aneighborhood perspective [ CITATION Mar98 l 1033 ].Apparently, the central idea ofthe contemporary approach revolves around the community assets, andthe United Way seeks the best means of making changes.

Atthe moment, only a few attempts have been put into place to includeGIS in the planning, funding, and management process. As such, thesuccess rate of the HWMUW investigation is not a guarantee that therewill be a long-term change in how the United Way operates. Still, theexperiment provides a unique opportunity to interested groups toobserve how GIS can be utilized in planning and empowerment ofcommunities not only to make decisions for themselves alone but alsofor better coordination, integration and increased cohesion.

Thearticle makes it clear that the aim of the HWMUW is to intensify theorganizational capacity of individuals to take care of themselves andone another. This mission eventually leads to communities being ableto meet their needs by proper fund allocation to groups, non-profitinstitutions, and volunteers. Additionally, the United Way fostersthe maintenance of coordination for improving citizenry whileavoiding waste and unnecessary duplication.

Ascrutiny on the United Way shows that it has been used for needsassessment hence priority development in communities. The underlyingprinciple has always been the conductor of a countrywide populationassessment based on needs followed by the extrapolation of resultsbased on the surrounding level. These surveys were done because thereis a possibility of a variance of requirements across the country.However, this method is indicated to have several deficiencies, forinstance, the neglecting of particular neighborhood trends, exclusionof important population segments and the exclusion of importantcommunity issues. All in all, three investigated methods include thetraditional needs assessment, the ethnographic investigation, and theGeographical Information System method of analyzing resources andrequirements.

GIScan be likened to a database software that deals with geography. Itfacilitates the placement of data onto maps, followed by queryingsorting and later on, categorization based on region [ CITATION The11 l 1033 ].The author further describes GIS regarding the organization of GISdata into layers which can beanalyzed for more information. In this way, an overview of dispersionor distribution of phenomena can be easily demonstrated. Apparently,the GIS not only facilitates data viewing in maps, but alsoillustrates attributes of the surrounding, improve communication andinvite a broad range of participants into the planning.

Puttingin mind these benefits of GIS, the writer purports that the HWMUW wasimplemented in a quest to ascertain its viability to be used fordecision-making and regional planning especially in the grassroots.The United Way was therefore introduced to the available technologyand its capacity to assist various agencies in planning for funding,setting priorities and resource allocation was determined. The mainidea behind the GIS program was to introduce the United Way to theavailable technology.

Despitehaving a great potential, the GIS has its setbacks. The first issueis personnel availability and ability the second is dataavailability, and the last one is the technology itself as a barrier. These problems do not necessarily translate to the nullification ofthe significance of GIS. This article explains that GIS is anefficient method applied to the convergence of two or more goals in abidirectional manner of decision-making (Kovacic et al., 2014).Presentation of data using GIS is easy to understand and comprehendso that the administrators, funding bodies and officials can utilizeto assist the community.

Lastly,the concept of asset mapping needs to be highly considered andincorporated into the fundamental processes of community developmentprimarily to encourage the establishment of community capacities. Itis important to note that GIS is not limited to community assessmentonly but also in business and planning. Its use in the non-profitsector has been well indicated in the article. The HWMUW also seemsto be a useful tool. How it will progress with its associated GISapproach depends on the acceptability of use. All in all, it willprovide a significant baseline for learning purposes for the socialservices sector, community development professionals and thephilanthropic communities at large.


Kovacic, B.M., Stigler, S., Smith, A., Kidd, A. &amp Vaughn, M.L. (2014). Beginning a Partnership with PhotoVoice to Explore Environmental Health and Health Inequities in Minority Communities. International Journal of Environment Resources and Public Health, 11132-11151.

Schlossberg, M. (1998). Asset Mapping and Planning with GIS: A Look at the Heart of West Michigan United Way’s Innovative Approach. Michigan: University of Michigan.

The Volpe Center. (2011). Applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Livability. Cambridge: John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center.

Community Development



Geographicalinformation System (GIS) is widely used around the world. ESRI’sGIS founded in 1969 has been essential for functioning of variousgovernments. In both local and national administrations, urbanplanners are tasked with the planning of land use for maximumutilization. Planning of available land is based on infrastructure,residential, agricultural, and commercial utilization. Currently,most local governments are under budgeted and reduced in size byeconomic constraints hence shifting to reliance on global informationsystems. ESRI is integral to the management of map, plan, build andanalyze public works projects within their geographicaljurisdictions. This is because of its reliability, efficiency,accuracy, simplicity to oversee work, automation of tasks, and costeffectiveness [ CITATION ESR l 1033 ].

GISis not only used by specialists in public works but also othervarious fields throughout different departments. Community workprofessionals and community development workers widely depend on GISto improve their efficiency, accuracy, and speed of work. Physicalplanners are regulated by federal, state, national and internationalrequirements of developments, environmental impacts and protection ofhuman and animal inhabitants of a community earmarked for growth.ESRI software simplifies the processes that cap the reception ofinitial design, mapping, and analysis of the site after visitationand the environmental assessment before the approval of the plan. Assuch, this streamlines the process involved before approval becauseit eliminates conflicting information, enables tracking of theproject, and facilitates resource sharing, therefore, offering aplatform for review analysis and follow-up of a plan to completion [ CITATION ESR l 1033 ].

GISmapping of land use was adopted by the city of Richmond, Virginia.This improved the efficiency, time saved and accuracy of informationby 90%. Initially, before its adoption, the mapping process involvedspecial drafting technicians who drew zoned and printed hard copiesof different city blocks and mapped them separately. The draftersworked with the land assessors to code different city blocks forreferencing. This was quite tedious. Apart from that, the process waserroneous and cumbersome [ CITATION ESR l 1033 ].

Planningof land use by local governments involves constant changes henceprofessionals should have the skills to understand the complexitiesand estimations of the future. They, however, have to involve the GISto review the information stored, analyze them with the currenttrends and the future expectations as per the political, social andeconomic factors involved. This could either be a simple planning ofthe current and the future or a comprehensive plan to eradicateproblems and prevent any more in the future [ CITATION ESR l 1033 ].

Inthe process of building management and safety, ESRI software offersadministrative support for review and mapping of information. Itsdesign of coding helps in easy identification hence, preserving thecommunity natural beauty and historical aesthetics. To keep all tasksin the public works perfectly in shape, ESRI provides state of theart management tools with computer aided design data to enableplanning activities. With reference to the stored information, surveyanalysts compute data from various geographical positions and planusing a simple graphical user interface {GUI}. ArcGIS, an ESRIsoftware can use unconverted CAD drafted data. This means thatutilization of the high cost of investments is maximized. It isimproved by uploading CAD information to the internet for worldwideusage. Looking at a case study in Colorado, it was evident thatmaintaining the existence of road signs was challenging. Mapping allroad signs to GIS ensured easy monitoring, maintenance, andreplacement of the symbols. Apart from avoiding government lawsuits,it also helped to maintain awareness of road users [ CITATION ESR l 1033 ].

GISsystems improve administration effectiveness through G-Service. Thisuses a common Internet portal and websites to access governmentservices. This could be government to citizens, businesses, or otheradministrations. All the needed documents, approvals, licenses,tenders and applications are stored on a website that readilyavailable.

InHoward County Maryland, the bureau of highways plowing roads mappeddifferent zones of the paths to a tracking system for easy monitoringand management. This enabled road users through the internet topreview the condition of the roads before using them. In addition tothat, the bureau could manage the grid partitions to ease complexityarising due to fire and snow plowing maps and other listings to usersaround the world. Data stored by different GIS systems could belinked up by their storage handlers so that it is widely available toanyone around the world. Geography Network is an example of dataproviders offering information about boundaries, demographics, andcommercial data [ CITATION ESR l 1033 ].

ESRIhas wide uses that could be subdivided for accurate data analysis.ESRI could also be used in various avenues like across the internet,a network and a single user. ArcGIS is a software that incorporatesother easily designed software for better functioning. These includeArcView, ArcEditor, ArcInfo, and ArcSDE. ArcGIS extensions improvethe functionality and hence offer a wider range of accurate androbust performance. These extensions include ArcGIS Spatial Analyst,ArcGIS 3D Analyst, ArcGIS Geostatistical Analyst ArcGIS Street MapUSA and ArcPress among others. GIS uses ArcIMS software to distributedata worldwide over the internet whereas ArcPad eases the collectionof relevant information from the field. Another user interfaceRouteMap allows users to map routes over the internet easily. ESRIhas various user-friendly avenues to access accurate data and enablethe use of stored information (ESRI).

Inconclusion, the GIS tool is quite vital in many aspects. As thearticle rightly suggests, it is used in different avenues to improveservices. As the article accurately infers, GIS is utilized byvarious people apart from the specialists to enhance geographicalreferencing, thereby, ensuring efficiency and accuracy.


ESRI. (n.d.). GIS Solutions for . 1-20.