PolicyMap shining brighter light on neighborhoods

Mapping tool offers new data, functionality and interface

The ongoing push to expose the nuances of neighborhoods online has been accelerating lately.

Last week, NeighborhoodScout dialed up the resolution of its neighborhood snapshots, and RealtyTrac added data on unpalatable neighborhood characteristics, like the locations of sex offenders, to its listing pages.

San Francisco neighborhood image via Shutterstock.
San Francisco neighborhood image via Shutterstock.

Just before those rollouts, Google unveiled Google Maps Gallery, a platform that lets organizations publish maps to make their data more discoverable.

PolicyMap, a firm that powers a data-mapping tool and also feeds information to organizations including Realtors Property Resource (RPR), has introduced the latest effort to cast a brighter light on the contours of communities.

The company announced today that it’s revamped its mapping application tool, giving a facelift to its user interface and adding new data and functionality.

“As interest in data and data visualization has exploded, we’ve rebuilt PolicyMap into a more powerful but easier-to-use tool that appeals to our traditional customers, as well as newcomers …” said Maggie McCullough, president at PolicyMap, in a statement.

As part of the revamp, PolicyMap’s mapping tool now offers full-sized maps and a more intuitive data menu bar.

The changes, the company said, should make it easier for users — who include investors, brokers, agents, policymakers and researchers — to view geographies through the lens of datasets on demographics, housing, lending, consumer spending, crime, education, jobs, health care and other topics. PolicyMap provides data down to the census block group level. (Block groups typically contain 600 to 3,000 people.)

PolicyMap has also injected fresh data into its mapping tool, including data on commercial and residential vacancies, monthly and seasonal flu activity, infectious disease rates, economic mobility and location affordability. It plans to add hyperlocal data on consumer expenditures in April.

Also part of the redesign, PolicyMap has made its three-layer mapping feature more prominent and easier to use. The feature, now known as “3-Layer Maps” (formerly known as “analytics”), lets users view areas on a map that meet specified criteria in up to three categories.

For example, a user could ask the tool to highlight areas within one mile of a top-performing public high school where the median family income is between $75,000 and $150,000 a year and 30 percent or more of households have children.

PolicyMap neighborhood data

A map produced using PolicyMap’s three-layer feature shows pockets in Philadelphia that match user-specified criteria. 

The site’s new data loader also makes it easier for users to upload their own information and fuse it with PolicyMap’s data in map format. Banks, for instance, can use the uploader to populate maps already showing areas with median family incomes of less than $50,000 with the locations of the residences of all their mortgage borrowers, offering them insight into their lending in moderate-income areas.

A basic version of PolicyMap’s mapping tool is free. That version lets users analyze all public data aggregated by the firm. But to view data that the company has to pay for and to use some advanced functionality, like its three-layer mapping feature, users must subscribe on a monthly ($200) or annual basis ($2,000).

PolicyMap told Inman News that brokers and agents commonly use one of the mapping tool’s features to generate community profiles for a radius around an address.

In addition to offering its public mapping tool, PolicyMap also competes with the likes of Maponics and Onboard Informatics as a data provider.

Real estate customers of the firm include RPR, a national property database owned by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) that lets Realtors access data for more than 160 million properties, and First American Financial Corp.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that PolicyMap feeds information to First American Real Estate. In fact, it feeds information to First American Financial Corp. 


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