Environmental Justice For All: Developing equitable places with data-driven plans

4 min read
Sep 6, 2023 9:14:23 AM

Being in a position to make change is certainly no small task. As community leaders, developers, planners, city managers, and beyond, you wield the power to shape the places you care about the most for the better. 

The pursuit of Environmental Justice (EJ), defined as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies, and equitable communities is not just commendable—it's a critical responsibility. One that requires informed, data-driven decision-making in order to make positive impacts and, in most cases, receive the funding to do so. Policies like Justice40 and support from federal agencies and local foundations can drive inclusive development, catering to individuals of all ages, races, and mobility access. 

Just as environmental justice is imperative to future development, in a time where funding and investment decisions, public support, and reporting demand data transparency, data storytelling has become an expected skill to build equitable communities.

"Environmental justice is not an option, but a civil right. It's about ensuring that all communities, regardless of their background, have the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards."

- Vernice Miller-Travis, Environmental Equity Expert

The Power of Data in Equitable Development

Community Data for Informed Decisions 

Community data isn't just numbers; it's a compass that helps you navigate your path. By collecting and analyzing data, you gain a comprehensive understanding of your community's needs, pollution levels, health disparities, and accessibility gaps come to light, allowing you to craft tailored solutions.

Combining what we know about the environment with what we know about the people who live in those places, we can make better decisions that take every resident’s experience into account.

Environmental Equity in Focus 

As of today, all environments are not created equal—and not all developments affect residents equitably. While data quantifies environmental inequities and can be used to pinpoint areas of communities disproportionately affected by challenges or facing hazards and risks, humanizing the data enables you to focus support that can literally transform everything from the way vulnerable populations experience their communities day-to-day, their health outcomes, satisfaction, and wellbeing. 

[BUTTON] Learn about mySidewalk’s Environmental Justice Index


Creating Inclusive Communities for All

Age, Race, and Mobility Access

True development means inclusion for everyone. Through powerful data storytelling that brings everyone into perspective, you can create public spaces that cater to diverse demographics.

mySidewalk users at KaBoom! developed the Playspace Inequity Prioritization Index (PIPI) which has now seen recognition from the presidential administration and federal funding to make parks and playgrounds more equitably located and accessible to kids and families of all kinds. 


From age-friendly parks to mobility-accessible amenities and strategic placement, data can help you ensure future developments welcome everyone to enjoy spaces that help them feel a sense of belonging—and isn’t that what community is for?

Barrier-Free Mobility

Identifying mobility barriers and public transportation gaps takes your efforts toward environmental justice to the next level. Addressing these issues ensures that the elderly, differently-abled individuals and those without personal vehicles can navigate your community with ease. 

Combining mySidewalk’s transportation and walkability data with environmental justice indicators gives you a more full perspective of the things impacting mobility in your community. Our newest Guide makes it easy to find all of the most relevant information and start telling data stories from impactful starting points. 


Justice40 and the Catalyst for Equitable Investment

Empowering Vulnerable Communities

The Justice40 initiative from the White House is a groundbreaking step toward leveling the playing field and empowers you to prioritize equitable developments. It guarantees underprivileged neighborhoods receive due investments in clean energy, affordable housing, and improved infrastructure.

The unfortunate reality is many communities face an uphill battle against decades of inequity. Advocating for a piece of the 40% of federal support for marginalized, underserved, and overburdened communities is going to take reliable, compelling community data. 

What if you were able to:

  • Identify areas with high rates of pollution, 
  • know who in your community was most impacted,
  • and whether or not there are correlations between physical and mental health impacts on that population? 

Data-Driven Decision-Making 

With mySidewalk, the data you need to understand, advocate and make decisions for your community is at your fingertips. Community data not only informs Justice40 initiatives but also how dedicated resources are spent. By identifying areas in need, your investments become targeted and impactful, aligning with the initiative's core goal.


Taking Charge of Your Role in Transforming Communities with Data Storytelling

Having access to the data you need to support strong funding requests and allocate resources is one thing. Being able to communicate insights with partners and community members with engaging data stories is where mySidewalk’s platform really transforms your community’s experience with data about themselves. 

Community Engagement

Sharing data and building a culture of transparency engage a dialogue that empowers residents to understand and take pride in their environment. It can also help forge trust between development organizations and the public. 

mySidewalk’s data storytelling tools make it easy for you to help anyone in your community understand complex data with dynamic visualizations, compelling narratives and analyses, and rich media that is designed to be shared.

Collaboration for Impact

The work you do to develop equitable communities doesn’t happen in a silo. Partnering with local organizations, neighborhood associations, and experts can make or break even the dreamiest plans and initiatives. 

Data-informed strategies, devised collaboratively, will cater to your community's unique needs. With mySidewalk’s Enterprise packages, you can grant everyone in your organization access to licenses to the platform made for people who care about places.

Advocacy for Equity

Championing policies that drive justice and inclusivity is pivotal to ensuring your project's catalysts for positive, long-lasting change. 

Your ability to track and show how initiatives impact communities over time can help rally policymakers around efforts to maintain efforts, funding, and support additional projects and extensions in the future. Not only are calculations, projections, and time series built into mySidewalk’s data storytelling tools, but the platform design and sharability make it simple for you to put powerful community data in front of community leaders and their constituents.


Paving the Way for an Inclusive Future

Equitable development and Environmental Justice may present challenges, but they're challenges well worth embracing. With community data storytelling, you're not just shaping physical landscapes—you're molding a future of opportunity and promise. 

A future of developments rooted in data storytelling builds communities where age, race, and mobility access aren’t barriers to taking advantage of everything the places we care about most have to offer. When every individual thrives in a just and sustainable environment, you can help create a legacy that resonates for generations to come.


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