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​​Intro to Geographic Information Systems


For this assignment, rather than making a map, you will explore the power of maps to deepen social inequalities or promote justice.


Type in your answers and submit the document using Dropbox



Go to:


  1. What was the HOLC and what was its original purpose?


  1. What were the 4 categories used to rate neighborhoods?


  1. How did the ratings affect minority home buyers?


  1. What has been the lasting impact of “redlining?”


  1. Where was the most “redlined” city in America?



Go to: / Enter/ Next / Zoom in until city names and bars appear on the right.


  1. Compare the length of the different colored lines for cities in Alabama and Ohio. Which ratings dominate each state?


  1. Click on San Francisco, CA. There is a shortage of green areas but the others are equal.

Click on yellow area C25 near the center. What types of trades/jobs are dominant?

What are the racial/ethnic characteristics of the area?


Click on red D5 in the north. What are the reasons given for the negative rating here (physical hazard)


Click D3 and then D4 – what groups are referred to in D4 as “undesirable racial infiltration”?


Click green A9 (southwest of center). What are the average salaries and home prices in this desirable area?


What are average salaries and housing prices in San Francisco today (google)?




Go to Mobile, AL (search bar or return to map by clicking US outline upper left).  The map looks warped because the original was georeferenced to fit a more accurate modern projection.


  1. On the right side, click on each of the concentric circles (based on Burgess concentric zone model, 1925). Which ring has the highest percentage of red? Which has the highest percentage of green?



  1. Click on the large red area in the northeast (D6).

Name of area: ____________________________

How is the area described and who lived there?


  1. Click on the small green area near the center (A6). How is the area described and who lived there?


EPA EJSCREEN (Environmental Justice)

Go to the EJSCREEN site:

For info about how to use the website:



Go to Mobile, AL (if not already there, use search bar upper right)


Add maps (top bar) / more demographics / category: income/poverty / variable: household income

< 15K

Add to map. If you can’t see colors well, reduce transparency

Add maps / additional maps / hazardous waste


Zoom to scale @ 2 mi with downtown Mobile centered on the screen

How many hazardous waste sites are visible? __________

Of those, how many are located in the lowest income areas? ____________


Click on the hazardous waste site on the east side of USA’s campus. Scroll down and copy and paste the “ECHO LINK” to see the EPA’s record. What year was South issued a Letter of Violation (under Enforcement and Compliance) _________


Turn off map layers (click x for each layer)



Explore the following census block groups:

Select Location (top bar) / Select location / Enter a census block group id

Enter the following (one at a time):      010970035022                       010970004021

Once the area is selected (looks green) – click on it / Explore reports


Explore reports

Environmental Indicators – leave all checked (explanation of indicators is at the bottom of this sheet)

Demographic indicators – uncheck “demographic index,” and “linguistically isolated”


Look at bar graphs (check state and US percentile). The number means this area scores higher than the percentage of the bar (in other words, if the bar says 57%, that means this area scores higher than 57% of places in the US or state).


For more detailed numbers, click Get Printable Standard Report (it will open in new tab)

Use the tables to fill in the following info (use “Value” column):




 010970035022010970004021State averageUS average
Particulate matter    
NATA Air Toxics..Risk    
NATA Respir Hazard    
Traffic Proximity    
Hazardous Waste P    
wastewater Dis    
Minority Pop    
Low Income Pop    



Highlight each value in the first 2 columns that is higher than the state and US averages.



Clear all selected areas. Add maps (top) / Side-by-side maps / Experiment adding an environmental factor on the left and demographic factor on the right.


List 2 interesting observations about spatial patterns and relationships between factors.


Environmental Indicators

Air Toxics Cancer Risk (NATA Cancer Risk) -Lifetime cancer risk from inhalation of air toxics, as risk per lifetime per million people. Source: EPA 2011 National Air Toxics Assessment

Air Toxics Respiratory Hazard Index (NATA Respiratory HI) – Air toxics respiratory hazard index (the sum of hazard indices for those air toxics with reference concentrations based on respiratory endpoints, where each hazard index is the ratio of exposure concentration in the air to the health-based reference concentration set by EPA). EPA 2011 National Air Toxics Assessments

Diesel Particulate Matter level in air (NATA Diesel PM) – Diesel particulate matter level in air in micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3). Source: EPA 2011 National Air Toxics Assessments

Ozone level in air – Ozone summer seasonal avg. of daily maximum 8-hour concentration in air in parts per billion, 2013. Source: EPA Office of Air and Radiation

PM2.5 level in air – Particulate matter (PM2.5) levels in air, micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) annual average, 2013. Source: EPA Office of Air and Radiation

Traffic Proximity and Volume – Count of vehicles per day (average annual daily traffic) at major roads within 500 meters (or nearest one beyond 500 m), divided by distance in meters. Calculated from U.S. Department of Transportation National Transportation Atlas Database, Highway Performance Monitoring System, 2014, retrieved 4/2015.

Lead Paint Indicator (% pre-1960 housing) –Percent of housing units built before 1960, as indicator of potential exposure to lead paint. Calculated from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey 2011-2015.

Proximity National Priority List Sites (NPL) – Count of proposed and listed NPL sites within 5 km (or nearest one beyond 5 km), each divided by distance in km. Count excludes deleted sites. Source: Calculated from EPA CERCLIS database, retrieved 12/05/2016 .

Proximity to Risk Management Plan (RMP) Facilities – Count of RMP (potential chemical accident management plan) facilities within 5 km (or nearest one beyond 5 km), each divided by distance in km. Calculated from EPA RMP database, retrieved 03/2017.

Proximity to Treatment Storage and Disposal Facilities (TSDF) – Count of TSDF (hazardous waste management facilities) within 5 km (or nearest one beyond 5 km), each divided by distance in km. Calculated from EPA RCRAInfo database, retrieved 01/2017.

Wastewater Dischargers Indicator (Stream Proximity and Toxic Concentration) – RSEI modeled Toxic Concentrations at stream segments within 500 meters, divided by distance in kilometers (km). Calculated from RSEI  modeled toxic concentrations to stream reach segments, created 01/2017.

Last Updated on April 21, 2019

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