Working with local nonprofit agencies and community members in Syracuse and Central New York, Syracuse Community Geography uses geographic information systems (GIS) and spatial analyses to create maps that:
Raise awareness about important community problems and resources;
Inform community and neighborhood planning processes;
Support community organizing; and
Empower communities to make positive change.
Syracuse Community Geography is a community driven university-community collaboration that uses GIS mapping and spatial analyses to provide fresh and insightful perspectives on social issues in the Greater Syracuse Area.
Syracuse Community Geography is committed to addressing community challenges that relate broadly to the themes:
Community and economic development;
Social, environmental, and transportation justice; and
Health inequalities and disparities.
Syracuse Community Geography values:
Community participation and diverse perspectives;
Equitable access to mapping technologies, especially among grassroots and traditionally marginalized groups;
Innovative and flexible approaches to solving community challenges;
Community awareness of complex geographic and social dynamics within communities.
Syracuse Community Geography helps create communities – from neighborhoods to regions – that are empowered to use maps and spatial analyses to better understand their social landscape and to build a just society.
Syracuse Community Geography (SCG) provides a service to, and serves as a resource for, community and neighborhood groups, social service agencies, faith-based agencies, nonprofit organizations, and community coalitions that would like to use GIS mapping to address a community concern but lack the financial resources or technical capacity. SCG assists community partners to frame research questions, create, collect, manage, analyze, and interpret geographic data, and use geographic information to create positive community change.
Equitable Access to Information
SCG promotes equitable access to geographic knowledge and data. All thematic maps, analyses, reports, and GIS datasets (except when confidentiality must be protected) are made available to the public on this website, through presentations and trainings, and by request. SCG created Syracuse MapsOnline – an interactive mapping application that enables users to query and map a wide range of city and county information at multiple scales and resolutions – to empower community members to create their own maps.
Community-based mapping of societal problems often provides fresh insight into the nature of community challenges and problems and allows for better targeted solutions. The experience of the Syracuse Hunger Project showed that GIS mapping and spatial analysis shed new light on the problem of hunger in Syracuse and indicated areas where innovative, collaborative solutions are possible. At the conclusion of its first phase of work, members of the Syracuse Hunger Project recommended that Syracuse University create the “Community Geographer” position. With start-up funding from The Gifford Foundation, the SU Chancellor’s Office, SU Maxwell School, and SU Geography Department, the Community Geographer position was created in September 2005.
Community Geography Advisory Committee
Projects and activities are guided by a voluntary advisory committee. The committee consists of Syracuse community members, community agency and local foundation representatives, SU Geography faculty, SU staff, and one SU graduate student.
The Advisory Committee meets monthly to:
Prioritize projects and evaluate project proposals;
Encourage and establish connections among community groups who might benefit from mapping and spatial analyses;
Evaluate project processes to assure strong and continuing community involvement;
Identify areas to improve the ability of the Community Geographer to serve community needs; and
Assist community partners to translate analysis into programmatic plans and policies for action.
Syracuse Community Geography works with Syracuse University’s Geography Department, the Shaw Center, the Community Benchmarks Program, as well as other departments, programs and centers at SU, SUNY-ESF and area colleges to coordinate student involvement in community-driven projects. To learn more, visit the student opportunities page.
Community Geography Web Resources
Follow the links to the left to learn more about our projects, to download maps, to create your own maps, or to request assistance with a community-based, spatial analysis mapping project.