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. & 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.