Using stories to support policymakers and community engagement

Authors: Stephanie Deitrick*, City of Tempe/Arizona State University
Topics: Cartography, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: cartography, visualization, stories
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2020
Start / End Time: 8:40 AM / 9:55 AM
Room: Plaza Ballroom E, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Data can serve as a powerful tool to set policymakers’ priorities and inform policy decisions. Local government leaders leverage data to create policies that improve the effectiveness and efficiency of services provided to the community. Cities increasingly face more uncertain and complex challenges, like climate change, homelessness and public safety, where a single approach, dataset or analysis do not provide sufficient information to understand the or make decisions about the problem. Increased access to data and analysis are valuable tools to support tackling these challenges, but it is easy to get lost in the data instead of using the data to find opportunities for change. GIS analysts and cartographers working with policymakers need to see data as more than data, taking on the challenge to make data relevant to understand the problem, its breadth and depth, trends, distributions and where interventions make sense. Visualizations that provide tools that encourage decision-makers to interact with data provides opportunities for relationships to be discovered and new questions to be asked, but providing these tools without context limits their effectiveness and usefulness. Providing stories that combine maps, data and narratives can help clarify complex data so that it is usable to decision-makers. This presentation focuses on the use of stories to support local government decision making and community engagement. This presentation specifically looks at work being done in Tempe, Arizona and how that work has grown and changed along with their efforts to leverage data to evaluate programs and make decisions at all levels.

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