LAND

Mapping tool receives local and national recognition

Photo credit: Evan Garcia 
By Deserae E. del Campo

Photo credit: Evan Garcia 

Mapping tool receives local and national recognition

By Deserae E. del Campo

Developed to identify thousands of vacant parcels of public land in Miami-Dade County for much-needed affordable housing projects, the Land Access for Neighborhood Development (LAND) tool has received some notable nods of approval by both local and national entities.

Recently, LAND won the 2019 Impact Award for Excellence in Community Development from the South Florida Community Development Coalition (SFCDC), which recognizes people and organizations that have made exceptional contributions to community development. LAND also was highlighted as the “Innovation of the Month” by the MetroLab Network, a collaborative body of universities and local governments focused on civic innovation, technology, and research. In addition, Harvard University Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation featured LAND as part of their national Map Monday series, which highlights a data visualization that enhances understanding of or helps resolve a critical issue.

“There has been a lot of recognition and interest in how LAND was conceived, how it functions, and how it could potentially be replicated elsewhere,” said Robin Bachin, director of the University of Miami’s Office of Civic and Community Engagement (CCE) and the Charlton W. Tebeau Associate Professor of History. “It’s been truly gratifying to see the pace at which people are responding to LAND by using the tool and creating both land-use decisions and, hopefully, public-policy decisions.”

The free, online mapping tool, developed by the CCE in collaboration with the Center for Computational Science and introduced back in March, provides a view of the location, size, and ownership of publicly or institutionally owned parcels of land that could be used to make affordable housing developments possible for low- and middle-income residents who are being pushed out because of the changing housing market. The tool is updated every two weeks and is essentially designed to assist government entities, policymakers, land trusts, affordable housing advocates, and other nonprofits organizations.

“When we launched LAND in March, for the first time we were able to see city-owned land and county-owned land adjacent to one another,” said Bachin. “Being able to visualize where the land is, makes it easier to think about aggregating land together in order to create larger parcels that are ideal for building affordable housing projects.”

Bachin said there are plans to expand LAND by adding more facets to the tool, such as state-owned land, Opportunity Zones, and zoning information. LAND was funded by a $100,000 investment from Citi Community Development, which is working with nonprofit and public agencies to forge innovative solutions for affordable housing.