Internet-Based Geographic Information Systems (GIS): New Tools for Community-Based Research

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Date(s) - Jul 1, 2008
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Center for Community Health


Presented by: 

Neal Richman, Ph.D.

Director Center for Neighborhood Knowledge Department of Urban Planning UCLA School of Public Policy and Social Research


The technical skills required for mastering desktop GIS are among the impediments to the use of digital mapping tools by community-based organizations, public health agencies, and even academic researchers. However, a new generation of web-based tools is providing opportunities for collaborative research in which communities can become directly engaged in planning, information exchange, monitoring and evaluating local initiatives.

Over the past twelve years the UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge has been a national leader in exploring the potential of delivering public and private data through internet-based GIS and thereby serving the information needs of a wide range of end-users. This presentation will briefly describe a number of these efforts that seek to address the issues of deteriorated housing, information exchange among people with disabilities, of a automobile-centric built environment. The presentation will end with a brief demonstration of Neighborhood Knowledge California ( as a tool for examining HIV incidence at the zip code level in Los Angeles.


Neal Richman is director of the UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge (CNK) and is on the faculty of the Department of Urban Planning at the UCLA School of Public Policy and Social Research. As director of CNK, Dr. Richman has been exploring the use of new information and communication technologies to support a wide range of community development activities. The most recent project is the Southern California Land Opportunities Tracking System (LOTS) built to encourage infill development, especially near new transit stops in Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial counties.

He has over twenty-five years of experience in affordable housing development, contributing to the rehabilitation/construction of more than 800 dwelling units in Southern California. Most of these projects were designed as scattered-site, infill developments with the aim of strengthening the fabric of distressed neighborhoods.

Since 1991, he has been teaching courses on such topics as real estate finance and development, non-profit development and professional practice in the UCLA Urban Planning Department. He received a Ph.D. in development and planning from the University of Aalborg, Denmark, and his M.A. in Urban Planning from UCLA.