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Geographic Information Systems: URPL-GP 2614 Intelligent Cities

Access to software, data, and learning materials for geospatial analysis

URPL-GP 2614 Intelligent Cities Workshop

Policy Introduction & Question

New York City has recognized that not having access to good grocery stores leads to unhealthy and unequal communities. Those neighborhoods with poor access to food, which are often lower income or otherwise underserved, have higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease than those neighborhoods that are not "food deserts." In 2009, the city launched FRESH, a tax incentive and development program to encourage grocery store retailers and commercial developers to create better and more accessible grocery stores. Developers receive tax abatement for up to 22 years and looser zoning and building restrictions if they are approved for the program. It's a classic neoliberal solution: turning to private enterprise to solve public problems. But does it work?

Question 1: Has the economic incentive made a demonstrated impact on the neighborhoods immediately surrounding grocery stores that have taken advantage of FRESH provisions? What is the projected impact moving forward into the future?

Question 2: Suppose that you are a real estate investor who is considering a development that would be eligible for the FRESH program's tax incentives. Should you build a new property or buy an existing property? And where should this property be? What area(s) of the city should you target that would both "do the most social good" and "have the potential to make the most money?"

Session Objectives

  • To learn that not all Open Data sources from NYC come ready to work with in GIS applications
  • To develop strategies for cleaning and geocoding existing files to do useful analysis with Carto

Sample Data Files

NYC Farmer's Markets (needs cleaning and is not geocoded)

NYC Demographic Snapshots (from the NYC Department of Education) | raw | filtered subset for practice

NYC Commercial Overlay Districts | data documentation | more documentation

USDA areas with low food access (PolicyMap download) | Definition: Low Income and Low Access status, as of 2015. Includes low-income tracts with at least 500 people or 33 percent of the population living more than .5 miles (in urban areas) or more than 10 miles (in rural areas) from the nearest supermarket, supercenter, or large grocery store. A low-income tract has a poverty rate of greater than 20 percent, has a median family income (MFI) of less than or equal to 80 percent of the state-wide MFI, or is in a metropolitan area and its MFI is less than or equal to 80 percent of the metropolitan Tracts for where no data were available are labeled "Insufficient Data" on the map.

Recommended Tools

Geocode by Awesome Table (Google Sheets extension)


Use any of the available datasets and or data sources suggested to create layers within Carto that would theoretically help someone answer either of the two questions posed above.

Other Key Resources

GIS Librarian

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Andrew Battista
Bobst Library 523 D
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012
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